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US envoy Nancy Powell to meet Modi this week

Posted on Feb 11 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 11 : US Ambassador Nancy Powell will meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi this week, marking a change in stance since the US had denied the BJP leader a visa in 2005 over the 2002 riots in his state.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the US embassy had requested for the meeting with Modi "quite some time ago".

Speaking at a press briefing, Akbaruddin said the US ambassador's request to meet Modi "has been fixed for this week".

"It is normal for foreign diplomats and ambassadors of different countries to make a request to the ministry of external affairs to facilitate meetings with constitutionally elected functionaries of states, and quite some time ago they asked the MEA... we did facilitate and did communicate that they could proceed with the meeting with the Gujarat chief minister, and it is a normal courtesy we extend to foreign heads of missions," he said.

The meeting is likely to take place Thursday. It would be the first high profile meeting between Modi and a US official since the US State Department revoked his visa in 2005 over the riots in Gujarat in which over 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, died.

The US and India have forged closer ties with bilateral trade standing close to USD 100 billion.

Among western envoys who have met Modi are German Ambassador Michael Steiner and British High Commissioner James Bevan. The European Union was the first to end the boycott of Modi.

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