This morning, President Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marking the first bilateral summit between the two heads of state.
"It is an extraordinary pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Modi to the White House for the first time," President Obama said in remarks after their meeting. The President recognized the Prime Minister's historic victory in the Indian general election earlier this year, and the two leaders discussed the broad partnership that exists between the United States and India:
I think that the entire world has watched the historic election and mandate that the people of India delivered in the recent election. And I think everyone has been impressed with the energy and the determination with which the Prime Minister has looked to address not only India’s significant challenges, but more importantly, India’s enormous opportunities for success in the 21st century.
We have had an outstanding discussion around a range of issues. And we, during our discussions, reaffirmed that as two of the world’s largest democracies, vibrant people-to-people contacts between India and the United States, including an incredible Indian American population that contributes so much, that we have so much in common it is critical for us to continue to deepen and broaden the existing framework of partnership and friendship that already exists.
-- President Barack Obama
Prime Minister Modi thanked the President for "his invitation and his warm and generous hospitality," and also expressed his commitment to expanding the U.S.-India partnership:
This visit, especially my conversation with President Obama, has reinforced my conviction that India and the United States are natural global partners based on our shared values, interests, and strengths in the digital age. We already have the foundation of a strong partnership. We now have to revive the momentum and ensure that we get the best out of it for our people and for the world.
During the last four days in the U.S. I have seen extraordinary interest and excitement about India and India-U.S. partnership among the people of our two countries. We will draw strength and inspiration from it as we start a more purposeful course in our ongoing journey.
Later in the day, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall.
-- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama
As the President and Prime Minister wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed this morning, "ties between the United States and India are rooted in the shared desire of our citizens for justice and equality" -- and they highlighted the connection between Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi:
When Swami Vivekananda presented Hinduism as a world religion, he did so at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. When Martin Luther King Jr. sought to end discrimination and prejudice against African Americans, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent teachings. Gandhiji himself drew upon the writings of Henry David Thoreau.