Guided White House tour, dinner symbolise Modi-Trump bonhomie


PTI | June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON: A guided White House tour by President Donald Trump, a few laughs and a working dinner – the first for a foreign dignitary at the White House under the current administration – was how Prime Minister Narendra Modi rounded off his US visit.

“Well, Mr President (Donald Trump), let me express my gratitude for this invitation that was extended to me. It is true that I have spent a very short time over here, but really, I have felt so much at home during this stay in the United States,” Modi told the President at the dinner that was hosted in his honour by Trump.

The US president was joined by First Lady Melania Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence for the dinner.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of United States of America (USA), Donald Trump and the first lady of USA, Melania Trump at White House.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of United States of America (USA), Donald Trump and the first lady of USA, Melania Trump at White House.

Trump had his top Cabinet members at the dinner, including Defence Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster.

Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, along with his senior advisor Jarred Kushner, were also present at the dinner table which had 13 chairs on each side.

The guest arrived in the Blue Room of the White House after a cocktail reception which was hosted by the First Lady.

“I am indeed also very grateful to the First Lady. She has organised this reception in my honour, and this honours not just me, but 1.25 billion people of India. So, once again, let me thank you and express my gratitude,” Modi said.

Amidst laughter, Trump told Modi that he will do the toast as soon as the media leaves.

“We’re going to have a very special toast, a very intimate toast,” Trump said.

“But again, I want to thank you and all of your representatives. It is such an honour to have you at the White House and in Washington. And we have had tremendous meetings today, tremendous success, and we enjoy a wonderful relationship, but it’s never been better than it is today,” he said.

“And again, any time you’d like, we want to have you back as soon as possible,” Trump said, indicating that he would like to have Modi at his house pretty soon.

The two leaders developed an instant chemistry so much so that Trump gave Modi a tour of his residence.

Trump gave the Prime Minister a guided tour of President’s residence quarters in White House including the Lincoln bedroom and showed him a copy of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address and the desk on which he wrote it.

Reflecting a new bonhomie between the two leaders, officials of the two countries were seen chatting while they were waiting for Trump and Modi to arrive in the Blue Room of the White House.

Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna was seen chatting with Priebus for several minutes and exchanging notes.

Wearing an Emilio Pucci yellow floral dress in crepe, the First Lady joined Trump in welcoming Modi at the South Portico of the White House and then walk with them to the Oval Office.

As Modi was about to depart from the South Portico later in the night after the dinner, he was seen chatting with Melania for more than a minute, apparently thanking her for their great hospitality.

According to the office of the First Lady, she oversaw the planning and menu.

At the Rose Garden, Modi acknowledged their hospitality.

“Right from the opening tweet to the end of their talks, President Trump’s welcome, which was filled with friendliness, his warm welcome to the White House by himself and the first lady — I would like to thank both of you from the bottom of my heart for this warm welcome,” said the Prime Minister.

Modi invited Trump and his family to India.

“I would like to invite you to India, along with your family. And hope that you will give me the opportunity to welcome you and host you in India,” Modi said.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, while briefing reporters later, said that Trump has accepted the invitation. But no dates have been fixed yet.

However, Trum”s daughter Ivanka Trump is headed for India later this year to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

“To further our economic partnership, I’m excited to report that the prime minister’s invited my daughter, Ivanka, to lead the US delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this fall, and I believe she has accepted,” Trump said.