Washington: Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi's invitations to the leaders of South Asian countries including Pakistan to attend his swearing-in ceremony on Monday sends a strong and positive signal, a top American diplomat has said. "I certainly think that having the regional leaders come (for the swearing-in ceremony) is a strong and positive signal. Beyond that I think, it is really for India and its neighbours to react and respond to," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, said.
"I certainly think that it is for the Prime Minister-designate to make the decision and the determination as to what kind of swearing-in (he wants)," she added.
Biswal told a select group of Indian journalists in a media roundtable that the Obama Administration will give the new Indian government the necessary "time and the space" to decide on their own course and then engage with New Delhi on that basis. "We are very excited about the very strong mandate that the Indian election has turned out. We are looking forward to working very closely with the Prime Minister-designate Modi and his team on what we see a shared agenda for security and prosperity throughout the region and we think that there is tremendous scope for this relationship which has grown so much over the years," she said.
The diplomat acknowledged that there are certainly concerns about the events that existed in 2002 in Gujarat and that the US has been very clear and on the record about it. "But, we also recognise the Indian electorate has weighed in with resounding mandate for the Prime Minister (designate) and we want to work with him on advancing his goals for India as a regional and global player," she said.
Biswal said the US President, Barack Obama, was very clear in his invitation to Modi that the US looks forward to welcoming him here in the US at the earliest opportunity. "We have stated quite definitely that he will be welcomed here. That he will travel on A1 visa as a head of State, which is the appropriate category for all heads of State when they travel to the US. We look forward to having in engaged across all areas of endeavour," she said.
Biswal refuted reports that there was delay in appointing a new Ambassador to India. "Knowing how this relationship is, knowing what critical time this is as the new government comes in place, we have selected as charge for those interim months, while those selection and nomination process unfolds, Kathleen Stephens, who is the former US Ambassador to South Korea," she said.