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Obama courts India's Modi after election sweep

Published on May 17, 2014 6:29 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Friday told India's future prime minister Narendra Modi that he hopes they can work closely and invited the once-shunned Hindu nationalist leader to visit Washington.

Mr Obama telephoned Mr Modi to offer his congratulations for his Bharatiya Janata Party's crushing election victory and invited him "to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship." Mr Obama said "he looks forward to working closely with Mr Modi to fulfill the extraordinary promise of the US-India strategic partnership, and they agreed to continue expanding and deepening the wide-ranging cooperation between our two democracies," the White House said in a statement.

Mr Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, was controversially refused a visa to visit the United States in 2005 over allegations he turned a blind eye or worse to deadly anti-Muslim riots in the western state three years earlier.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Mr Modi would face no problems visiting as prime minister because he would receive a special A-1 visa as a head of government.

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