India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington in September, in a bid to "strengthen economic relations" between the two countries, officials said.
Modi's acceptance of Obama's invitation signifies a willingness by both sides to let old wounds heal after outrage over the arrest and strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York in December over charges of visa fraud. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said in a statement Friday that Modi accepted Obama's formal invitation during a recent meeting in New Delhi. Obama first extended the invitation when he called Modi in May to congratulate him for winning the general election.
The two men are likely to discuss new technologies, energy security, counterterrorism and an exchange of intelligence when they meet later this year, the Associated Press reported.
Devyani Khobragade was accused of lying on visa forms so she could bring her maid to the U.S. while paying her a pittance. Khobragade returned to India in January, but charges are still pending.
Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power in May with a decisive election mandate, and he has said that strengthening ties between India and the U.S. is a top priority. Modi said that the relationship would not only benefit the two countries, but also "should emerge as a powerful force of good for peace, stability and prosperity in the world," according to the Times of India.
Modi's acceptance of Obama's invitation also appears to put to rest any lingering tension over the U.S. denying him a visa to visit in 2005. He was accused of complicity in religious riots in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 Muslims in the western state of Gujarat, where he was a top elected official. While rights groups have maintained Modi's administration abetted the violence, an investigation found no evidence that he willfully allowed the attacks.