US renews invitation to Narendra Modi despite cool non-response to first invite


May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON: The tweet was distinctly cool and detached and came at the tail end of a series of messages to other world leaders that seemed much warmer.

Ready to work closely with Modi to boost strategic ties: US

May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON: The tweet was distinctly cool and detached and came at the tail end of a series of messages to other world leaders that seemed much warmer.

Ready to work closely with Modi to boost strategic ties: US

"In our conversation, @BarackObama & I talked about further strengthening India-USA strategic partnership that will help both nations," Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi tweeted on Monday, in a brief reference to the phone call from the US President to congratulate him on his election victory.

No mention of the invitation to visit Washington, and a similar response to a separate tweet from Secretary of State John Kerry, under whose watch American mandarins have made a meal of US ties with Modi, singling him out for a visa blacklisting while entertaining foreign leaders charged with far more egregious human rights violation. "@JohnKerry Thank you Mr. Kerry. We will strengthen relations between our 2 vibrant democracies in the years to come," Modi said matter-of-factly to the US Secretary of State's tweet.

While it may be impolitic to divine too much from social media messaging (that too in less than 140 characters), Modi's seeming smackdown of Uncle Sam did not go unnoticed in the US. "In Modi's Twitter Diplomacy, A Notable Omission," the New York Times observed, noting that the "order in which he thanked (world leaders) and one notable omission, later rectified, was more interesting than the content of the tweets themselves."

Indeed, Modi's chronicle of thanks in response to messages received from major world leaders began with David Cameron of Britain, among the first countries to break a US-led diplomatic boycott of the Gujarat chief minister. "@Number10gov Thank you Prime Minister @David_Cameron for the wishes. Hoping to further strengthen India-UK relations," Modi tweeted in response to congratulations from the British Prime Minister and expression of his keenness "to work together to get the most from UK-India relationship."

"Had a telephonic conversation with @pmharper. Thanked him for his wishes & talked about our commitment to strengthen India-Canada relations," Modi followed a few hours later, before a set of double-tweets about Russia and Japan that were distinctly warmer than his response to the US outreach that included a formal statement by President Obama and an invitation to visit US.

"I thank President Putin for his good wishes. Looking forward to making our relations with Russia even stronger in the years to come," Modi tweeted, following up with, "India-Russia friendship has stood the test of time. We will further strengthen our relations in a wide range of fields."

Then came Japan, widely thought to be his favorite country in terms of economic relationship. "My gratitude to Prime Minister @AbeShinzo for extending his good wishes. Strong relations with Japan is beneficial for both our nations," and "Personally, I have a wonderful experience of working with Japan as CM. I am sure we will take India-Japan ties to newer heights."

Responses to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Francois Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain, UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji and Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, followed before Modi turned to Obama's message.

It is entirely possible though that the Prime Minister-elect might have been responding to messages in the sequence he received them.

The purported snub did not exactly faze Washington, which on Tuesday, followed up President Obama's telephonic greetings to Modi and invitation to visit Washington with a more elaborate message from Secretary of State John Kerry that seemed to be aimed at burying the visa flap.

"The United States stands ready to work closely with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and the new government to promote shared prosperity and strengthen our security. The friendship between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy is absolutely vital, and the United States is deeply invested in our strategic relationship," Secretary of State Kerry said in a statement hours after Modi was formally elected as the Prime Minister.

Kerry added that he looked forward to returning to India soon and "echo President Obama's invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit the United States at the earliest opportunity."

Courtesy: PTI