NEW DELHI, June 5 Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi will visit Washington to meet President Barack Obama in
September, two Indian newspapers reported on Thursday,
signalling a new start in ties with a leader once denied a visa
by the United States.
Modi, who swept to power in a general election last month,
has accepted an invitation from Obama for two-way talks in
Washington, the Times of India and the Hindustan Times said.
No comment was immediately available from the Indian
government press office or from the U.S. embassy.
Both countries are keen to boost security and economic ties
- the Obama administration has set a goal of quintupling annual
trade to $500 billion.
Scheduling has still to be finalised, but the summit would
represent an upgrade from earlier expectations that Modi, 63,
would meet Obama on the sidelines of the annual United Nations
general assembly in New York.
Modi, a former chief minister of Gujarat, had been refused a
U.S. visa over sectarian strife in the western Indian state in
2002, in which more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were
killed. He has denied any wrongdoing and an Indian Supreme Court
inquiry found no case to answer.
The U.S. ambassador to India met Modi earlier this year, as
opinion polls showed his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on course
for an election victory. U.S. officials had said a visa and an
invitation to meet would probably be forthcoming if Modi won.
Modi wants to cautiously open up the Indian economy to
foreign investment to boost growth and job creation.
His government may announce as soon as next month that it
will allow foreign online retailers to sell their own products
in India, creating a major business opportunity for players such
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)