Modi fasting for the Hindu festival of Navratri sipped only warm water as the two delegations sat down to eat after the Prime Minister asked them not to feel embarrassed over his not eating.
“There was great, very successful interaction between the President and the Prime Minister as they got to know each other,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters after the dinner.
Obama recalled commonalities in their life experiences. Both were relative outsiders. Both had great interest in technology and faced similar difficulties when they came to office. Modi spoke of the poor technological infrastructure.
Joining them at the dinner were Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal. On the Indian side were External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Indian ambassador to the US S. Jaishankar and a few other officials dealing with the US.
After agreeing over dinner, in a joint op-ed piece published on the website of Washington Post, Modi and Obama said the true potential of the bilateral relationship was yet to be fully realized.
“The advent of a new government in India is a natural opportunity to broaden and deepen our relationship. With a reinvigorated level of ambition and greater confidence, we can go beyond modest and conventional goals. It is time to set a new agenda, one that realizes concrete benefits for our citizens,” the jointly written article said.