Washington: Hosting visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over lunch at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department here, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, acknowledged that whatever he might do, he can't match the ‘rock star' reception that Modi received from the Indian-American community in New York over the weekend.
"Mr Prime Minister, I'm forced to admit that no matter how warm our welcome here today, we're never going to be able to top your rock star reception at Madison Square Garden," Kerry said with Modi standing by his side at the State Department.
His remarks attracted applause and laughter from the audience.
"Billy Joel (American pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer) called me this morning to make sure you hadn't taken his regular gig there," said the Secretary of State.
"None of us have been able to turn on a television or pick up a newspaper without seeing the celebrity coverage that the Prime Minister has received. And with it, for all of us, there's a sense of shared excitement and a sense of shared possibility," Kerry said in his remarks. President Obama often says that, for him, only in America would his journey be possible, he said.
"And Prime Minister Modi's journey from a young man who sold tea by the railroad in Gujarat to the Prime Minister's residence on Race Course Road seems no less improbable," said the Secretary of State at the luncheon, which he hosted along with US Vice President, Joe Biden.
"This belief in opportunity, even against long odds, is really unique to our two countries. We are two countries who begin our founding documents with the same words, the same three words: 'We the people'. We're two countries where entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation is in both of our DNA," Kerry said.
"The only two countries that could have given birth to Hollywood and Bollywood, the only two countries where high-tech hubs like Bangalore and Silicon Valley could blossom and be connected, even as they are independent in their creativity. We are two countries that, as Swami Vivekananda said in Chicago more than a century ago, have sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations on Earth," he said.
Biden said he and President Barack Obama enjoyed the dinner with Modi on Monday night at the White House.
"Secretary Kerry and I and along with President Obama enjoyed our dinner last night. We had a small dinner, where I think all of us thought it was a remarkable way in which President Obama and the Prime Minister connected, each discussing what each of our countries faced and what needed to be done," he said.
"It was really quite remarkable. I've been to many of these dinners, but I can't think of any one that went as well. And Happy Navratri, Mr Prime Minister. It's good of you to honour us and visit us - during this holy week," he added.
"The Prime Minister is fasting and we keep taking him to dinners and lunches. As we Catholics would say, that's an occasion for sin, but we appreciate the fact he has spent so much time with us," Biden said.