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Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

Asia

India's Modi leaves for US seeking to boost business

AFP | Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

In this photograph taken on August 16, 2014 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves as he leaves following the commissioning ceremony of the Indian Navy's newly-commissioned warship INS Kolkata in Mumbai.

NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for New York on Thursday on an official visit focused on boosting trade and resetting ties with the world's largest economy.

Modi said ahead of his departure he was "confident that the visit will mark the start of a new chapter in our strategic partnership".

A bitter diplomatic row broke out last December when US authorities arrested and then strip-searched an Indian diplomat in New York.

Modi headed to New York hours after launching "Make in India", an initiative to attract global manufacturing to his country.

He is scheduled to have breakfast in New York on Monday with heads of top global firms including Google's Eric Schmidt and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi.

"I look forward to meeting business leaders to invite them to participate more actively in India's economic growth and transformation," he said in a statement.

Modi will kick off his maiden US visit in New York, where he will address the UN General Assembly and address people of Indian origin at Madison Square Garden, a 18,200-capacity Manhattan arena.

On Thursday, he said he would press for reform of the United Nations "to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century" and urge stronger global commitment on issues including Ebola, climate change and poverty.

On Monday he will head to Washington for private meetings with Obama, marking a transformation of fortunes for a man refused a US visa in 2005 over charges he failed to prevent anti-Muslim violence as chief minister of Gujarat state. Modi has always denied any wrong-doing.

The prime minister, who led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to a crushing victory on a promise to revive India's flagging economic fortunes, has said India and the United States are "natural allies". 

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