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Previously denied a visa, new Indian PM 'will be welcomed' to U.S.

By Elise Labott, CNN
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • White House says President Obama will reach out to Indian PM-elect Modi soon
  • India's next prime minister will be granted a visa, State Department says
  • He was denied once before over sectarian violence in India; But he has been cleared of any blame

(CNN) -- Indian Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi "will be welcomed" to the United States, the White House said on Friday.

Spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama "does plan to reach out" to him soon.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Modi would get a visa to the United States once he takes office and forms a government. Modi was denied one several years ago.

India's next prime minister, Narendra Modi, greets supporters at his mother's home in Gandhinagar on Friday, May 16. Modi is the leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. After a five-week-long election, the BJP swept the ruling Indian National Congress from power. Official results were expected later Friday. India's next prime minister, Narendra Modi, greets supporters at his mother's home in Gandhinagar on Friday, May 16. Modi is the leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. After a five-week-long election, the BJP swept the ruling Indian National Congress from power. Official results were expected later Friday.
India's election: The largest in history
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Meet Narendra Modi, India's next PM

Now, however, Modi would be eligible for an A1 visa, said Psaki. Heads of government use such visas to travel to the United States.

"We congratulate Narendra Modi and the BJP on its victory in winning a majority of seats in India's historic national election, which saw more voters cast their ballots freely and fairly than in any election in human history," Psaki's statement said. "Secretary Kerry has also offered his congratulations, and looks forward to working with the BJP on expanding our shared prosperity and security."

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party appears to have captured a landslide victory and he will likely become prime minister.

"Once a new Government is formed, we look forward to working closely with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to advance our strong bilateral partnership," the State Department statement said.

In 2005, the United States denied Modi a visa because of his alleged role in anti-Muslim violence three years earlier in Gujarat state, where he was chief minister.

More than 1,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims. A Supreme Court-ordered investigation in India absolved him of blame last year.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this story.

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