US President Biden, First Lady host PM Modi for intimate dinner at White House

Washington: US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an intimate dinner at the White House during which they discussed a range of issues, exchanged gifts and enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India.

Modi was received in the South Portico of the White House by Presiden Biden and the first lady. The two exchanged pleasantries and posed for photos. Before entering the White House, the prime minister, the president and the first lady had a short conversation.

“I thank @POTUS @JoeBiden and @FLOTUS @DrBiden for hosting me at the White House today. We had a great conversation on several subjects,” Modi tweeted.

“When friends meet! PM @narendramodi arrives at the @WhiteHouse for a private engagement with @POTUS @JoeBiden, @FLOTUS @DrBiden and family. An occasion for two leaders who share close bonds of friendship to cherish special moments together,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

According to the White House, the president, the first lady and the prime minister also enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India, performed by youth dancers from Studio Dhoom, a local Indian dance studio that helps connect a new generation to the vibrant culture of Indian dance.

They were joined by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, it said.

Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday presented US President Joe Biden with a special sandalwood box, handcrafted by a master craftsman from Jaipur. The box contains the idol of Lord Ganesha and a Diya (oil lamp), handcrafted by a family of fifth-generation silversmiths from Kolkata.

He also gifted a 7.5-carat lab-grown diamond to First Lady Jill, which reflects earth-mined diamonds’ chemical and optical properties, along with a Papier mache box, known as kar-e-kalamdani – in which the Green diamond is placed.

Earlier in the day, Jill hosted Modi at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where they participated in an event to highlight shared priorities of India and the US around education and workforce.

On Thursday, President Biden and the first lady will host a State Dinner at the South Lawn of the White House, which is expected to be attended by 400 guests. Prime Minister Modi’s visit also includes an address by him to the joint session of the US Congress.

US President Biden and First Lady Jill presented a handmade, antique American book galley from the early 20th Century as the official gift to Prime Minister Modi.

They also reportedly gifted a vintage American camera, accompanied by an archival facsimile print of George Eastman’s Patent of the first Kodak camera, a hardcover book on American wildlife photography, and a signed, first edition copy of ‘Collected Poems of Robert Frost’.

Modi arrived in Washington from New York where he led a historic event at the UN headquarters earlier in the day to commemorate the 9th International Day of Yoga, attended by UN officials, diplomats and prominent personalities.

He is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and the First Lady.