M A I N   N E W S

US ends Modi boycott, envoy to meet him
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
In a dramatic U-turn, the United States has decided to end its nine-year boycott of Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell will meet Modi later this week, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said today. The meeting is likely to take place in Gandhinagar on Thursday.

During the past decade, Washington had shunned the controversial Chief Minister for “not fulfilling his constitutional responsibility during the anti-Muslim riots in the state in 2002”. It has also consistently denied him visa since 2005.

The change of stance towards Modi has come after various surveys conducted ahead of the Lok Sabha election suggesting that the BJP would emerge as the single largest group. Washington obviously would find it embarrassing to deal with Modi, a leader it was boycotting, should he become the PM, a source said. The EU and the Australia have already ended Modi’s boycott.

A State Department official confirmed the appointment between Modi and the US envoy. The request to meet Modi was made by Powell herself, he said. The MEA, however, stated that it played the role of a facilitator for the meeting. The US embassy had ‘quite some time back’ asked the Indian Government to arrange the meeting. After proper consultations, it was decided to facilitate the meeting since the request had come from a ‘friendly country’ for a meeting with a constitutionally elected Chief Minister, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

This comes as a shot in the arm for the BJP which had been repeatedly urging Washington to reconsider its stand on Modi. BJP president Rajnath Singh last year visited the US and told the American authorities that Modi’s boycott was proving to be an irritant in ties between the US and the saffron party. The BJP was quite happy with the US decision while the Congress said it was a “non-issue” for the party.





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