President Barack Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US next month, despite an online petition by a Sikh rights group seeking cancellation of his meeting at the White House, a top American official has said.
"The President, the Secretary (of State) looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the US. We have said that consistently since his election, and that remains the case," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.
When asked about an online petition by New York-based Sikh for Justice rights group seeking cancellation of Modi's meeting, she said: "I believe it's one of the 'We, the People' petitions. There were some fraud checks that indicated a high number of nomalous – I don't know how to say this word." In its petition, the SFJ has asked President Obama to cancel his meeting with Modi in September. The group has also sought documents related to the visa ban of Modi since 2005.
In 2005, the US State Department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US in the wake of the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Harf said a number of the signature were removed because of the terms of participation.
"Users can still sign the petition, and if it garners 100,000 non-fraudulent signatures before the deadline, I think it will receive an official response. So again, people are free to express themselves," she said yesterday.
When asked can the US prosecute somebody, a foreign prime minister or foreign country's leader, she said, "I wouldn't want to venture a guess at that hypothetical." She said, "I will repeat what I just said, that we look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the United States, as the President and the Secretary have both said."
Following his historic win in the general elections this year, President Obama called Modi personally and invited him for a meeting in September last week at the White House.