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US does a U-turn, Powell to meet Narendra Modi on Thursday

Last updated on: February 11, 2014 14:39 IST

United States Ambassador to India Nancy Powell plans to meet Narendra Modi, signalling a shift in America's stand towards the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.

"We can confirm the appointment (between Modi and Powell)," a State Department spokesperson told PTI. The request to meet Modi has been made by Powell herself, but the spokesperson did not comment on the possible date of the meeting, which is expected to take place in Ahmedabad this month.

"This is part of our concerted outreach to senior political and business leaders which began in November to highlight the US-India relationship," the spokesperson said.

The go ahead, just before the announcement of general elections in a few weeks from now, seems to have been taken after intensive debate within the various wings of the Obama Administration -- the White House and the state department in particular -- with crucial inputs from the members of the Congress, and the influential leaders of the corporate sector, the US India Business Council in particular.

In the past few weeks, a series of public meetings organised by the influential think tanks here have had concluded that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led by Modi was currently headed to win the upcoming general elections.

The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP)-US president Chandrakant Patel welcomed the decision taken by the Obama administration in this regard.

"We highly appreciate the decision taken by US President Barack Obama, and Secretary of State John Kerry. This would further help in strengthening of Indo-US relationship," Patel said.

"Modi is the most popular leader of the country right now. Given that he has been given clean shit by all the courts in India, it was not fair on the part of the US to not to have relationship with Modi," Patel said.

In 2005, the US state department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US in the wake of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

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