Washington/New Delhi: Donald Trump will join Narendra Modi at the mega "Howdy, Modi!" diaspora event in Houston on Sunday to reaffirm the Indo-US strategic ties, the White House has announced, a decision hailed by the Prime Minister as a "special gesture."
Emphasising the new bonhomie in the India-US ties under the Trump administration, this is for the first time in recent history that the leaders of the two largest democracies would be addressing a joint rally anywhere in the world.
More than 50,000 Indian-Americans from across the US have registered for the September 22 "Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures" event to be held at the sprawling NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
"Howdy", short for 'How do you do?' is a friendly greeting commonly used in southwestern United States. This would be the first time that an American president would be addressing thousands of Indian-Americans at one place in the US.
It comes ahead of the 2020 presidential elections in the US in which the influential Indian-American community members are expected to play a greater role.
White House officials told PTI that a request for the joint address was made by Prime Minister Modi to President Trump when the two met in France last month on the sidelines of the G7 summit.
Trump, who enjoys a great chemistry and friendship with Modi, "immediately accepted" the invitation to join him in Houston and directed his officials and secret service to make arrangements, officials said.
In October 2016, Trump, then as Republican presidential nominee, addressed a strong crowd of some 5,000 Indian-Americans in New Jersey, a few weeks away from his historic win in the November 2016 elections.
So far, Trump is the only presidential candidate to address the Indian-Americans solely during an election year. In his address, Trump had said that if elected, he would be the best friend of India in the White House.
The Houston event will be Modi's third major address to the Indian-American community after he became the prime minister in 2014 and the first after his re-election in May.
The live audience will be the largest gathering for an invited foreign leader visiting the United States other than the Pope.
By Lalit K Jha