Bipartisan leaders invite India’s Prime Minister Modi to address Congress

House and Senate leaders this week invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint session of Congress during an official state visit on June 22.

In a letter dated Thursday, leading Democrats and Republicans from each chamber said the speech would provide an opportunity to hear the Prime Minister’s vision for India’s future and his views on “global challenges our two countries are facing”.

The letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y.

“We look forward to paving the way for greater collaboration in the years to come,” the lawmakers wrote.

Modi last addressed a joint meeting of Congress in 2016. The speech “leaved a lasting impact and significantly deepened the friendship between the United States and India”, the Congress leaders wrote. in their letter.

The Indian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the invitation.

In recent years, the United States has sought to strengthen its ties with India, the world’s largest democracy, to counter China’s growing influence both regionally and globally. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden announced last month that they would host Modi for an official state visit, including a state dinner at the White House on June 22.

Modi, who has been India’s top elected official since 2014, was seen as a controversial figure following the deadly 2002 riots in Gujarat when he was India’s chief state minister. In 2005 he was denied a visa to the United States because of the riots, which killed more than 1,000 people, but last year India’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that he should be cleared of all charges related to the riots. Modi has denied any wrongdoing.

Modi’s visit to the United States comes as relations between Washington and New Delhi have been strained at times, particularly over the amount of oil India has bought from Russia, which is helping it in its war against Ukraine. India has maintained a neutral stance towards the war in Ukraine.

But the United States and India are broadly aligned on efforts to address China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region and climate change.

India and China have had multiple skirmishes along their border in recent years, with the biggest clash taking place in June 2020 when India said 20 of its soldiers were killed.

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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