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PM leaves for US, hopes visit will mark “new chapter”


modiNew Delhi: Describing America as India’s “vital partner”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today embarked on his first visit to the US confident that his five-day trip will mark a “new chapter” in bilateral strategic ties.

As Modi seeks to promote India as open for business and to mend ties with the US after a bitter diplomatic row last year, Modi said he was looking forward to meeting President Barack Obama in Washington over two days.

The Prime Minister said he will discuss with Obama how Indo-US ties can be taken to a “new level” in the interest of the two countries as well as of the world.

Obama will host a rare private dinner for Modi at the White House on September 29, so as to establish a personal relationship with the Indian leader ahead of summit talks the next day.

The two leaders are meeting for the first time. The Prime Minister is expected to have only tea and lemonade at the dinner as his US visit coincides with the Navratri fast which he religiously observes every year.

“I will discuss with President Obama how we can use the strength of all that we share and all that we have built so far to take our relationship to a new level in the interest of our two countries and the cause of this world. I am confident that the visit will mark the start of a new chapter in our strategic partnership,” he said in a statement before he took off on a special Air India plane.

Modi will have a stopover in Frankfurt tonight and will reach New York tomorrow and later proceed to Washington on September 29.

“I see the United States as a vital partner for our national development, drawing especially on the rich possibilities of partnership in education, skills, research, technology and innovation – and, above all, a shared commitment to human values.

Working together, and with others, we can bridge the many divisions of our times and contribute to building a more peaceful, stable, secure, sustainable and prosperous world,” the Prime Minister said.

The case involving Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade last year had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic spat between India and the US, casting a shadow on their ties. Khobragade was arrested and then strip-searched in New York for allegedly mistreating her domestic maid.

In New York, Modi will deliver his maiden address at the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

In his address at the 69th session of the UNGA, Modi said he will call for a stronger global commitment and more concerted multilateral action in addressing challenges of fragile global economy, turbulence and tension in many parts of the world, growth and spread of terrorism, the Ebola health crisis in Africa, climate change and eradication of poverty.

“I will also stress the urgency of early reforms in the United Nations, to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century,” he said.


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