U.S. And India's New PM Put Rocky History Behind Them

Narendra Modi is making a high-profile visit to the U.S. despite having been denied entrance into the country for a decade.
Posted at 8:24 PM, Sep 29, 2014

The recently-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first-ever trip to the U.S. this week, overcoming a U.S. travel ban that before now kept him out of the country. 

The reason for the ban? In 2002, Modi was governor of the Indian state of Gujarat when ethnic violence exploded into riots, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims.

Modi is a member of the RSS — India's Nationalist Party — which is accused by critics of being anti-minority and anti-Muslim.

And although he's strongly denied any part in the violence that occurred while he was governor, he's also shown little remorse over the deaths. 

HBO / "LAST WEEK TONIGHT": "He told me his greatest regret was he didn’t handle the media very well."

JOHN OLIVER: "Sure, I could have handle the media better. I could have somehow spun the massacre as a positive.”

But as it turns out, there's one way to get around a U.S. travel ban: Become a head of state, especially when that state has 1.2 billion people and is a key American ally in the region. 

State Department spokesman put it more artfully, saying, "U.S. law exempts ... heads of state and heads of government ... from certain potential inadmissibility grounds."

But if Modi's bitter about the U.S. implying he had a hand in ethnic cleansing, he's not showing any sign of it. (Video Via ABP News)

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Modi called the U.S. "[India's] natural global partner" in a plea for more U.S. investment in his country. 

In fact, the entire trip seems geared around strengthening the economic relationship between the two prominent democracies.

"Prime Minister Modi is due to attend meetings with business leaders from several of the Fortune 500 companies, including the likes of Boeing, PepsiCo, Google, GE and Goldman Sachs, among others."

Which isn't to say he's ignoring the politics: First Post reports he did find time to chat with Bill and Hilary Clinton.

He also spoke at the United Nations, giving his first official address to the world community. (Video Via The New York Times)

So, for now it seems the U.S. and Modi have decided to leave their rocky past behind. On Monday night, the Indian prime minister will have his first meeting with President Obama.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.