|Washington embraces India’s Modi, roses and all
The United States ended a decade-long boycott of Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi over deadly religious riots as a top diplomat held talks with the man tipped to be the country's next prime minister.
Nancy Powell, the US ambassador to India, shook hands with Modi who presented her with a bouquet of roses at his official residence in western Gujarat state where he is chief minister, before entering closed-door talks.
Powell and her entourage later left Modi's residence in the state capital Gandhinagar, after the meeting lasting almost an hour.
Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, is accused by rights groups of turning a blind eye to riots that killed up to 2,000 people in Gurajat in 2002. Most of the victims were Muslims.
The United States in 2005 revoked a visa for Modi under a domestic law that bars entry to any foreign official seen as responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom.’’
Modi has denied any wrongdoing over the 2002 violence and investigations have cleared him of personal blame, although one of his former ministers was jailed for life for instigating the killing of 97 Muslims.
Powell's meeting with Modi puts the US in line with European nations and Australia, which have already restored ties with him, as opinion polls show Modi on course to win power at general elections in May.