Biden family to host intimate dinner for Modi on June 21; hot ticket state dinner on June 22

Washington: The Biden family is planning to host an intimate dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 21, a day before the much-in-demand State Dinner at the White House, a senior administration official has said.

Modi has been invited by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for an official state visit.

The historic visit, among other things, would include an impressive welcome ceremony on the South Lawns on June 22, which later in the night would also become the venue for the State Dinner that would be extraordinarily glittery with great entertainment, the official, familiar with the planning of the high-profile trip said.

“We will have a very substantial arrival ceremony on the White House lawn. The night before, I expect the Prime Minister and President Biden and the Biden family to have some moments of intimacy where they really have a chance to sit down together,” the official told PTI.

The venue of the intimate dinner has not been disclosed.

According to the White House schedule released last week, Biden is scheduled to travel to California from June 19 to 21. The Prime Minister is expected to arrive in Washington DC from New York on June 21 after attending the International Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters.

The day of hectic activities on June 22 would conclude with a State Dinner, for which a tent is likely to be pitched on the South Lawns of the White House to accommodate the large number of guests who have been invited for it.

The guest list is normally released on the evening of the state dinner. The attendees are expected to be the stakeholders of this relationship from across the United States and also from India.

“I think the State Dinner will be really a celebration of the US-India relations with supporters and advocates coming from India, but also around the United States. We have a saying …it’s a very hot ticket. Hardly a day goes by when I haven’t received requests from people to get the last tickets to the state dinner. I believe it will be a wonderful celebration,” said the official.

According to the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, on June 23, there will be a lunch at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris and the Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“There will be a number of events while the Prime Minister is here celebrating various elements in the relationship, technology, education, and training. Basically, the Prime Minister has asked for an extremely robust schedule, and that’s what we’ve done. We have essentially given him almost a full slate of events that, in many respects, makes clear why we think the US-India relationship is so important,” said the official.

Responding to a question, the senior administration official said the details of the dinner and other activities would be released by the White House in the coming days.

“But I will tell you, it’s very special. It has been curated in a way to appeal to the prime minister. It will be a nice and appropriate gesture of a close partnership between the two leaders,” said the official.

While the number of guests invited for the State Dinner remains a closely guarded secret, the official confirmed that it is much larger than the 120 that can be accommodated in the State Dining Room of the White House, the traditional venue of the State Dinner.

“Yes (pitching the tent on the South Lawns of the White House). It will be extraordinarily glittery, wonderful, and with great entertainment. And I think it will be a wonderful celebration. We’ll have many dimensions to it. And everyone is quite excited,” said the official.

Meanwhile, there is great enthusiasm among Indian-Americans about Modi’s visit.

Hundreds of people from across the country are preparing to travel to Washington DC next week to participate in various events related to the visit.

This has resulted in a sudden jump in the prices of hotel rooms and flight tickets. While no one knows the exact number, several thousands of Indian-Americans are planning to be part of the historic welcome ceremony at the White House on the morning of June 22.

Several community organisations like the Federation of Indian Associations have organised special bus services that would bring community members from the New York and New Jersey areas.

Buses would leave several cities in New York and New Jersey early on June 22 so that they could be at the White House in time for the morning welcome ceremony.

On June 21, hundreds of Indian-Americans have planned to gather at Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House to welcome Modi with a cultural extravaganza that would be reflective of India’s cultural diversity.

And on June 23, the community will organise a dinner reception for the Prime Minister at the Ronald Reagan Building.

In addition, a large number of Indian-Americans are planning to have a glimpse of their popular leaders when he arrives at the hotel in Washington DC and at the airport.