Jill Biden takes Indian Prime Minister Modi on side trip ahead of Thursday’s White House visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden is taking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a side trip to Virginia on Wednesday, a day before her official state visit and fancy dinner at the White House.

The Indian leader was arriving from New York, where earlier Wednesday he performed backbends and corpse poses during a yoga session with a multinational crowd on the United Nations lawn.

President Joe Biden, who invited Modi for the state visit, has spent the past two days in California raising money for his re-election campaign and was due to return to Washington later Wednesday.

Despite deep differences with India over its human rights record and its approach to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Biden nevertheless extended the administration’s third invitation for a state visit to Modi. . With all the pomp and attention thrown at Modi, Biden hopes to cement his relationship with the leader of a country the United States believes will be a pivotal force in Asia for decades to come.

In a sort of warm-up on Thursday, the first lady hosted a visit Wednesday to the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Va., for an event highlighting workforce training programs for Modi, who leads the one of the largest democracies in the world with approximately 1.4 billion inhabitants. She usually takes a visiting leader’s spouse on a DC-area outing, but Modi would travel alone.

Afterwards, the first lady returned to the White House to unveil the decor and menu for Thursday’s state dinner, which is being held in a temporary pavilion erected on the South Grounds of the White House. She brought in a guest chef, Nina Curtis, who specializes in plant-based cuisine, to work on the three-course dinner with the White House kitchen staff. Modi is a vegetarian.

Violinist Joshua Bell will entertain guests after dinner.

Jill Biden is a community college career teacher who was instrumental in helping her husband’s administration promote “career-related” learning as an alternative to four years of college.

At the science foundation, the first lady and Modi will also meet with American and Indian students and engage in a moderated conversation.

The presidents of France and South Korea visited the United States on official state visits in December 2022 and April this year, respectively.

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