President Obama invites India’s Prime Minister-designate Shri Narendra Modi to visit United States; President Obama: Looking forward to working with next government in India; US Officials: U.S. military is flying manned missions over Nigeria to locate the
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  • (MAY 12-18)

    According to reports, as exit polls suggested that the Shri Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party was set to win the Indian election, President Barack Obama said the US looked forward to "working closely" with India's next administration. "I congratulate the people of India on concluding their national elections" he said in a statement on Monday without any reference to the polls or likelihood of Modi, whom Washington has shunned for years for his alleged role in 2002 Gujarat riots, becoming the prime minister. "India has set an example for the world in holding the largest democratic election in history, a vibrant demonstration of our shared values of diversity and freedom," Obama said. "The United States and India have developed a strong friendship and comprehensive partnership over the last two decades, which has made our citizens safer and more prosperous and which has enhanced our ability to work together to solve global challenges," he said. "We look forward to the formation of a new government once election results are announced and to working closely with India's next administration to make the coming years equally transformative," Obama said. Earlier, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also signalled that the US "looked forward to working with the next leader" of India even as she declined to comment on the issue of US visa for Modi, whose business visa was revoked in 2005. 1

    In another development, according to reports, President Barack Obama is inviting India's next prime minister, Shri Narendra Modi, to visit the United States, offering a fresh start to a relationship bruised by a decision years ago not to let Modi into the U.S. In a phone call to Modi on May 16, Obama congratulated the Indian leader and his Bharatiya Janata Party on their victory in India's national election, the White House said. Obama told Modi that he looks forward to cooperating closely to deepen the relationship between the U.S. and the world's largest democracy. Obama invited Modi to come to Washington "at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship," the White House said. The invitation marked an attempt to bury the hatchet with Modi and repair ties between the U.S. and India that were strained by the arrest late last year of an Indian diplomat in New York. Secretary of State John Kerry added his congratulations on Twitter, pledging to work with Modi to promote shared prosperity and security. His spokeswoman at the State Department, Jen Psaki, said that as the head of a foreign government, Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa, the type given to foreign diplomats and government officials. 2

    In other developments, reports noted that the U.S. military is flying manned missions over Nigeria in hopes of locating the hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group last month, a senior official tells Fox News. The official said the manned missions are intelligence and surveillance missions. At a press briefing on May 13 White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had experts in a variety of areas, including reconnaissance and surveillance, working on the case of the missing girls. However he said he did not have a “catalog” of the specific resources the experts were using. “They are actively involved in working with the Nigerian government to provide the advice and the expertise that they can provide to assist in that effort,” Carney said. The information comes as a new video, believed to be from Boko Haram, the group behind the kidnappings, surfaced Monday showing more than 100 of the kidnapped Christian schoolgirls praying to Allah. The video also features the Islamic terror group’s leader – who was reportedly negotiating with the government – saying he will hold the girls until imprisoned militants are freed. When asked about the option of trading the girls for imprisoned militants, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday, that is up to Nigeria. “As you know, Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts. As you know also the United States' policy is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts including ransoms or concessions,” Psaki said at a press briefing. 3