Narendra Modi will be the first leader to address a joint session of the United States Congress during US House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan's tenure.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress on June 8 during his visit to Washington, DC.
'The friendship between the United States and India is a pillar of stability in an important region of the world,' Speaker of the US House of Representative Paul Ryan told the media at his weekly press conference on Thursday, April 28.
'Today, I invited Prime Minister Modi of India to address a joint meeting of Congress when he visits Washington this summer,' Ryan said.
'India is the most populous democracy, and soon it is going to be the most populous country,' Ryan, who is almost 20 years younger than Modi, said. 'The friendship between our nations is a pillar of stability in a very, very important region.'
'This address presents a special opportunity to hear from the elected leader of the world's most populous democracy on how our two nations can work together to promote our shared values and to increase prosperity. We look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the US Capitol on June 8,' Ryan said.
Modi, who was invited by President Barack Obama for a visit to the US when he was in Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit on March 31, will be the fifth Indian prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress, and the first since 2005.
Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh (July 19, 2005), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (September 14, 2000), P V Narasimha Rao (May 18, 1994) and Rajiv Gandhi (July 13, 1985) addressed the joint meeting of the US Congress.
The tradition of foreign leaders and dignitaries addressing Congress began with the Marquis de Lafayette of France who spoke in the House chamber on December 10, 1824.
"An invitation to Prime Minister Modi to address a joint meeting of Congress is significant, given past US policy towards Modi during his time as chief minister of Gujarat," Ronak D Desai, a Fellow at New America and an affiliate at the Belfer Centre's India and South Asia Programme at Harvard University, said.
Modi's visit to Washington is likely to be the last official meeting between the two leaders during President Obama's final year in office.
American lawmakers welcomed Ryan's decision to invite Modi to address the joint meeting of the US Congress.
'I applaud Speaker Ryan for inviting Prime Minister Modi to address a joint meeting of Congress, and I look forward to welcoming the prime minister to the Capitol,' said US Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 'This address will serve as a sign of the deep and important relationship between the US and India.'
'Our partnership in areas such as defence, nuclear power, renewable energy and space exploration is very strong, thanks to our many shared values. I look forward to hearing from Prime Minister Modi about how we can continue working together to promote peace and prosperity,' Royce said.
'I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to Washington in June where his address to a joint session of Congress will explore how our two nations can work together to further our shared values and interests,' said US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker elected to Congress.
'Since Prime Minister Modi was first elected in 2014, he has made active engagement with the US a priority on many levels including exploring mutually beneficial economic opportunities, stronger government-to-government relations, and enhanced security engagements,' she said.
Earlier this month, Gabbard, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, wrote to Ryan encouraging him to invite Modi to address Congress.
'I'm pleased that Speaker Ryan has granted my request,' said US Congressman Dr Amerish 'Ami' Bera, the only Indian-American in Congress.
Last week, Dr Bera and Royce along with two other lawmakers had urged Ryan to invite Modi to address a joint session of Congress.
Ryan told reporters Modi would be the first leader to address a joint meeting of Congress after he was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives.