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    US a vital partner in India's national development: Modi

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    New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was denied a visa for the US for over a decade, said Thursday he looks forward to meeting President Barack Obama and is confident that his five-day sojourn to the US will mark the "start of a new chapter in our strategic partnership".

    In a statement prior to his departure for the US, where he would address the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York and later travel to Washington for the summit with Obama, Modi said he views the US as a "vital partner for our national development".

    He said his meeting with Obama will be his first meeting with him. "His life's journey is a remarkable testimony to the rights and opportunities that democracies provide, and an inspiration for people around the world," he said.

    Trade and investment, energy, science and technology, defence and security are expected to be the areas of focus during the summit talks. Both sides would seek to give much-needed impetus to the flagging bilateral relationship during the Sep 29-30 meeting.

    Modi in his speeches, including the latest interview to CNN, has referred to the strength of democracy - pointing to his own rise from a tea seller to the highest seat of government.

    "Shared values, convergent interests and complementary strengths provide the foundation for natural partnership between the world's oldest and largest democracies," he said in the statement.

    "I see the US as a vital partner for our national development, drawing especially on the rich possibilities of partnership in education, skills, research, technology and innovation - and, above all, a shared commitment to human values."

    "Working together, and with others, we can bridge the many divisions of our times and contribute to building a more peaceful, stable, secure, sustainable and prosperous world."

    He said he will discuss with Obama "how we can use the strength of all that we share and all that we have built so far to take our relationship to a new level in the interest of our two countries and the cause of this world. I am confident that the visit will mark the start of a new chapter in our strategic partnership".

    Modi said during his Sep 27 address to the UNGA, he will "stress the urgency of early reforms in the United Nations, to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in dealing with the challenges of the 21st century".

    India is part of the G4 grouping along with Japan, Brazil and Germany that have called for reform in the UN Security Council and support each other's bid for a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council.

    "The 69th session of the UN General Assembly is meeting at a moment of many pressing challenges for the international community - a still fragile global economy, turbulence and tension in many parts of the world, growth and spread of terrorism, the Ebola health crisis in Africa, climate change and the endemic global challenge of poverty.

    "I will call for a stronger global commitment and more concerted multilateral action in meeting these challenges," he said.

    He said he looks forward "to meeting business leaders to invite them to participate more actively in India's economic growth and transformation. This is message that I will also convey to the US business community in Washington", he said, referring to his breakfast meeting with more than 15 CEOs of top US companies, including Google, Boeing, Goldman Sachs among others.

    Modi said he is also keenly waiting for the opportunity to meet the Indian American community at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

    He is to address thousands of the Indian diaspora at the event.

    "Their success in diverse fields, their contribution to the US, their abiding bonds with India and their role as a vibrant bridge between the two largest democracies is a source of pride for us. They serve as a window to our heritage, progress and potential."

    Modi is travelling to the US for the first time since taking over in May. The US had denied him a visa for "severe violations of religious freedom" after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Early this year, the US sought to make up with him when it became evident that he was headed to lead the country of over 1.2 billion people.

    Modi has a packed schedule of more than 35 engagements during his Sep 26-30 visit to the US.

    Modi, who would be observing the nine-day Navratri fast during his trip, would also be holding three bilateral meetings with neighbours - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

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