Washington: Top American lawmakers have intensified their campaign to get Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to address a joint session of the US Congress when he visits the US in September.
US President Barack Obama on Friday extended a formal invitation to Modi for a visit to the US, and expressed keenness to work closely with him to make the bilateral relations a "defining partnership" in the 21st century.
In a statement issued by the PMO in New Delhi, Modi thanked Obama for the invitation, and said he looked forward to a result-oriented visit with "concrete outcomes" that impart "new momentum and energy" to the strategic partnership.
As of Friday, nearly three dozen Congressmen from both the Democratic and the Republican Party had signed on a letter addressed to the House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, extending an invitation to Modi to address the joint session of the Congress.
Though the office of the Speaker said that no determination in this regard has been made yet, every passing day the number of Congressmen making such a request has been swelling, with the latest campaign being spearheaded by Congressmen Brad Sherman, Ted Poe and Eni Faleomavaega. An invitation to address a joint session of Congress is viewed as the highest honour the Congress can bestow on a foreign head of state.
"I am pleased that many more members have joined the effort to invite Prime Minister Modi to a joint session of Congress," Sherman said.
"The United States and India have a special relationship based on shared democratic values. This is an excellent opportunity to build on this partnership," he said.
"We have an opportunity to build on the US-India strategic partnership to the benefit of both our nations. India is a growing economic power in a strategically important region of the world. New Delhi plays a critical role in regional peace and security," says the letter that is being circulated among members of the US House of Representatives.
"In each of the last three decades, a prime minister of India has addressed a joint session of Congress, and the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Modi will allow us to continue that tradition," said the letter, which was signed by some 36 Congressmen.