Nancy Powell meets Modi as Washington thaws

Our Bureau Gandhinagar/ New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on February 13, 2014

bl13_Powell and Modi

A file photo of US Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell

Goodwill call with no talk of US visa, insist officials

The US, which has been denying a visa to Narendra Modi since 2005 over alleged human rights violations during the 2002 communal riots, seems to have visibly softened its stance.

On Thursday, Ambassador Nancy J Powell called on Modi in what is seen as the topmost American official in India meeting the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Powell had arrived here on Wednesday on a two-day visit to the State to meet leaders from various sections of the society.

Sources said Powell’s meeting with Modi at his residence lasted an hour, during which four State bureaucrats were also present. US Consulate-General in Mumbai, Peter Haas, and other officials accompanied Powell. The two sides are reported to have discussed bilateral trade but not the contentious issue of a US visa to Modi. A large number of mediapersons had thronged the venue but not allowed to cover the event.

In a statement here, the Gujarat Government said Powell held “comprehensive and wide-ranging discussion on the Indo-US strategic partnership.” “She fondly recollected her earlier visits to Gujarat…and said she was impressed by the changes and development she saw in Gujarat and appreciated the fact that American businesses were pleased with the speed of decision making, as well as clear procedures in place in the State.

In Washington, on Wednesday, Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson, had insisted that the Powell-Modi meeting was “not a reflection of anything else than outreach to a broad range of officials.” She also scotched speculation about the US relaxing its policy in granting a visa to Modi.

After the Thursday morning meeting, the US Embassy in New Delhi said: “This meeting was part of the US Mission's outreach to senior leaders of India's major political parties in advance of the upcoming national elections.”

Published on February 13, 2014

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