The recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington must have come as a welcome reprieve for a White House consumed by chaos in the Middle East, Russian revisionism in Eastern Europe, and the spread of Ebola in Africa. Modi’s resounding electoral success in the May elections, his sterling pro-business credentials, and his reputation as a pragmatist fueled expectations that the visit would overcome the legacy of the 2005 U.S. visa ban for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and reinvigorate a relationship that had grown stagnant in recent years.
For the White House, the objectives were clear: telegraph an exuberant welcome; signal that the President seeks to revitalize a critical economic and strategic partnership with India; build a personal relationship with Modi and his team; discern where and how India may be willing to join the United States in leading on pressing global issues like climate change and terrorism; and begin to flesh out shared priorities that the respective bureaucracies can pursue over the coming months. By these measures, the visit was undoubtedly a success.
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