US to work very closely with next Indian PM

New York: The US has said it looks forward to working closely with “whoever is the next Prime Minister of India”, comments that could be interpreted as Washington warming up to Narendra Modi if he is elected.

“We look forward to continuing to work with India on a whole range of issues with whoever is in the next Indian government, whoever is a part of that government,” Department of State’s Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said in response to a question on how the US hopes to engage with India if the new Indian government is led by BJP’s Narendra Modi.

To another question on whether the US will invite Modi if he becomes the Prime Minister and how his visa issue will be solved, Harf said, “We will work very closely with whoever is the next Prime Minister of India. I can guarantee that. I am sure we will have meetings here.”

The US had denied Modi a visa in 2005 on the ground of alleged human rights violations after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The US is “going to keep working together (with India)” on a host of issues, “whoever the winner (of the election) ends up being…We will continue watching the (election) process and we will wait and see,” she said in a digital video conference briefing on US foreign policy update yesterday.

She said the US will “wait and see what the results of the elections are” and “we will talk more at the end of the election process.”

Harf said India-US trade has grown to nearly USD 100 billion and “there is more room to keep growing” as “that helps not just India but also American businesses, American workers here at home.”

“So that is certainly one place we want to continue to work together. Another is on people-to-people ties. We have something like a 113,000 Indian students in the US just this year which is second only to China.

Certainly at the people- to-people level, we think there is great room to keep working together, again which benefits both of our countries,” she said.

On a question about the issue of nuclear policy in BJP’s election manifesto, Harf said the US is “waiting to see the outcome of the election, see what the (Indian) government looks like and work with whoever it is and talk on the whole range of issues we always talk about and take issues as they come in.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the process of the election,” she added.

As India’s multi-week national elections begin to wrap up and the results announced next week, Harf said the US would congratulate the people of India on their “incredible national elections” where over 800 million eligible voters went to the polls “often in very remote and challenging conditions.”

“It is pretty incredible,” she said, adding Indians have a long history of having “really robust and great elections and this is the latest in a long line of them.”

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