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Indian PM Modi wants stronger US security ties

In a speech to Congress, Modi declared that the US and India could not act alone in the fight against terrorism. He also took the opportunity to hail the two countries' cultural connections.

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, addressed the US Congress on Wednesday, calling for closer security ties between the two countries. Modi also stressed his country's commitment to rebuilding a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

"The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight," Modi said, adding: "We have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating it. The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation."

Modi also invoked Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in his call for peace, saying that the nonviolence practiced by the Indian revolutionary inspired King.

He also hailed the shared cultural interests between the two nations, saying "more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball," and he praised Indian-Americans for being among the US' top scientists, business leaders and "even spelling bee champions."

The prime minister even allowed himself a small joke on the turbulent relationship between the two major political parties in Washington. "I am informed that the working of the US Congress is harmonious. I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship," he said.

"Well, you are not alone," he added, to ripples of laughter.

It was a major moment for Modi, who was once denied an entry visa to the US over questions about his ties to violent religious riots in his home state of Gujarat while he was chief minister. The three days of bloodshed resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Muslims.

Because of the allegations against Modi, US officials initially avoided contact with him when he was elected in 2014. Since then, a wish for stronger trade ties and a powerful region partner to counter the might of Beijing has seen the prime minister visit the US four times in the past two years.

es/kms (AP, Reuters)

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