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PM to address joint session of US Congress

Aziz Haniffa in Washington D.C. | June 30, 2005 03:21 IST

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) has formally given the green light for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to address a Joint Session of Congress on July 19 during his visit to Washington June 17-20 on the invitation of President George W Bush.


US Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-New York) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans June 29, announced that the Speaker had officially informed that he was acceding to their request that the Prime Minister be permitted to address a joint session.


The consent came following a letter they had both written earlier this month, which was signed by 53 Democrats and 17 Republicans, including the sole Indian American Congressman Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana), urging Hastert to convene such a session.


Singh's visit will be the first official visit by an Indian Prime Minister in nearly five years.


Terming it 'terrific news', an elated Ackerman said the "address by the Prime Minister will not only signify and recognize the strong US-India relationship but it will further deepen ties between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy."


Equally effusive, Ros-Lehtinen added "This goes a step forward in cementing the already warm and productive relationship between India and the United States.


"Our democracies are strong and vibrant and examples for peoples in all corners of the globe that suffer under dictatorships,' she added, and predicted that 'the Prime Minister's address to the joint session of Congress tells the world once again that the US is a great friend of India and that our ties will only strengthen with time."


Besides being the co-chairs of the India Caucus, Ackerman and Ros-Lehtinen are also senior and ranking members of the powerful House International Relations Committee.


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