Saturday, July 20, 2024

Modi greeted by supporters on arrival in New York for state visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived here to a delirious welcome by his flag-waving supporters chanting his name at the JFK airport and dancing in front of his hotel.

“I am confident that my visit to the US will reinforce our ties based on shared values of democracy, diversity and freedom. Together we stand stronger in meeting the shared global challenges,” Modi said in New Delhi as he embarked on the visit on board India1, the VVIP the Boeing 777 on Tuesday, arriving here the same day.

He was welcomed at the airport by Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s Ambassador to the US, and by a crowd of supporters.

He drove in a motorcade to the heavily guarded Lotte Palace Hotel where supporters waving Indian and US flags gathered in the lobby and outside, some of them dancing the garba.

Flouting security, Modi came out of the hotel to greet the chanting crowd, while worried Secret Service agents and security personnel tried to form a tight physical cordon around him.

More supporters waited for him in the hotel lobby where he autographed pictures of him.

The potholed streets at the sides of the Lotte Palace Hotel were cordoned off and sand-laden dump trucks were stationed in front of the building for an extra measure of security.

International Yoga Day celebrations at the UN on Wednesday will be the highlight of his brief stay in the city.

The ninth International Yoga Day celebration, which will include mass yoga exercises, will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. New York Time (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. IST) on Wednesday and will be videocast on the UN network (webtv.un.org).

UN General Assembly President Csaba Korosi and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will join the Indian Prime Minister at the yoga event along with hundreds of diplomats from around the world and UN officials.

Afterwards, he will leave for Washington where a private meeting is scheduled with US President Joe Biden ahead of the next day’s ceremonial start to the state visit at the White House.

This is Modi’s ninth trip to the US, but his first state visit that carries a higher level of pomp and circumstance — like a welcoming 21-gun salute and a state dinner.

He has been invited to speak to a joint session of US Congress and will be honoured at a state dinner hosted by President Biden and at a luncheon hosted by Vice-President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Modi’s plans for Wednesday in New York feature meetings with several thought leaders and business magnates.

The list includes Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter and the founder of Tesla; astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson; author and theorist Nicholas Nassim Taleb; investor Ray Dialo, and Chandrika Tandon, a patron of the arts and education and the sister of former Pepsi Chair Indra Nooyi, and Nobel Prize winners — molecular biologist Peter Agre and economist Paul Romer.

Grammy award winner Falguni Shah, the singer better known as Falu Shah, is also scheduled to meet with him.

In his statement previewing the visit, Modi said, “India-US ties are multifaceted, with deepening engagements across sectors.”

The US is India’s largest trading partner and the two countries collaborate closely in science and technology, education, health, defence and security fields, space and artificial intelligence, he said.

“Our two countries are also collaborating to further our shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he added.

He said, “My discussions with President Biden and other senior US leaders will provide an opportunity to consolidate our bilateral cooperation as well as in plurilateral forums such as G20 (group of industrialised and emerging economies), Quad (the Indo-Pacific-oriented group of India, the US, Japan and Australia) and IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Forum).”

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed at @arulouis)

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