WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama have collaborated on a rare joint editorial that will be published in a US newspaper on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said today, describing the first talks between the two leaders at dinner on Monday as “convivial and comforting.”
President Obama greeted PM Modi in his language Gujarati, saying “Kem Chho Mr Prime Minister? (How are you?)” And Mr Modi responded in English with, “Thank you very much Mr President.”
As a personal gift to President Obama, Mr Modi handed over a special edition of the Gita, an interpretation by Mahatma Gandhi, with a khadi silk cover. Mr Modi also gifted rare clips of Martin Luther King’s 1959 visit to India, which his office had state broadcasters dig out of archives.
The two leaders met for 90 minutes and broke the ice by exchanging parallels in their political graphs and anecdotes about their early days in office as “outsiders”. More substantive talks will take place tomorrow, and will be followed by a joint statement.It was a “wonderful meeting”, Mr Modi posted on Facebook.
“They both used technology in their campaigns, both were relative outsiders to capital cities when they assumed power. Both felt initial disappointments in terms of available infrastructure,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.
Mr Modi reportedly shared that when he came from Gujarat, the state he ruled for 14 years till he became Prime Minister in May, he found that the technological infrastructure in Delhi was not what he was used to.”President Obama talked about a similar experience,” Mr Akbaruddin said.
Their common interest in digital diplomacy came into play in the joint editorial that will be published in a prominent American newspaper. “It is very easy to digitally interact through electronic means,” Mr Akbaruddin told Media.
PM Modi, who has been on a nine-day navratra fast since Thursday, reportedly told President Obama at dinner to “please go ahead as normal” while he sipped warm water.”There were plates on the table. Dinner was served. President Obama had food,” Mr Akbaruddin said. First Lady Michelle Obama was not present at dinner.
This is Mr Modi’s first visit after the US, in May, revoked a nine-year visa ban over the 2002 riots in Gujarat. In a dizzying schedule since he landed in New York, he has addressed large gatherings in Central Park and Madison Square Gardens and met top CEOs.