U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with India’s Narendra Modi at the White House next month to discuss security and other issues when the prime minister visits Washington, the White House said on Friday.
In a statement, the White House said Obama and Modi will discuss economic growth, climate change, clean energy, and security and defense cooperation during the meeting on June 7, which follows Obama’s trip to New Delhi in January 2015.
“The visit will highlight the deepening of the U.S.-India relationship in key areas,” the statement said. The two countries’ partnership is seen as critical in Washington, which is seeking to counterbalance China’s increasing power.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also invited Modi to address a joint meeting of Congress during his Washington visit, an opportunity extended to few foreign leaders.
In 2005, then-U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration denied Modi a visa citing a 1998 U.S. law barring entry to foreigners who have committed “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi had just become the state’s chief minister. He has denied any wrongdoing, and India’s Supreme Court in 2010 ruled there was no case.
Obama, who has adopted a “pivot to Asia” strategy, quickly dismissed the issue by inviting Modi to the White House when he called to congratulate him on winning India’s 2014 election.