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Modi will 'automatically' be eligible for US visa if elected PM

April 02, 2014 16:54 IST

In 2005, the US had denied visa to Modi in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which is still continuing

The United States seems to be finally waking up to the political realities of India, as a report issued by the Congressional Research Service stated that if the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi becomes the next prime minister, he would be “automatically” eligible for diplomatic immunity.

The US government also said that it “will work with whoever the people of India decide should lead their country” and will seek to strengthen bilateral ties further.

“We have a very close -- very, very close -- relationship with India on a whole host of issues, whether it’s energy, the economy, environmental issues, security issues, a whole host of issues. That has not changed. We look forward to growing that even stronger. We will work with whoever the people of India decide should lead their country. We believe it’s a critical partnership, and we’re moving forward with it,” US state department spokesperson Marie Harf said during a press briefing on Monday night.


On the Congressional report, Harf stated that the government is going to verify the report even as she denied seeing it.

The report, which was issued on March 18, but released on March 31, stated, “Modi is widely considered to be one of the front-runners as prime ministerial candidate of his Bharatiya Janata Party. If Narendra Modi were to become Prime Minister of India, he would automatically be eligible for an A-1 (diplomatic) visa as head of state, regardless of the purpose of his visit.”

In 2005, the US had denied visa to Modi in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which is still continuing. However, last month, the US indicated a softening of its stance, when the outgoing ambassador to India Nancy J Powell paid a token visit to him.

The US state department also denied claims that the sudden resignation of Powell that was announced on Monday night was in any way related to the recent diplomatic spat between India and the US.

“There’s no big secret to timing here. All the rumours and speculation are, quite frankly, totally false. She’s retiring, again, after 37 years, returning home to Delaware by the end of May. I don’t have a further insight into why she chose now, but it’s not at all related to anything happening in the relationship, it doesn’t indicate any realignment of the relationship. This is an incredibly key partnership that will continue under our team there and under whoever is named the next ambassador,” said Harf.

Nayanima Basu
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