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July 1, 2000
Congressmen want Vajpayee to address House
C K Arora
Some 40 Congressmen have urged US House of Representatives' speaker Dennis Hastert to invite Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to address a joint session of the US Congress during his September state visit.
Democrat Jim McDermott, a founding member of the India caucus, last night sent a letter co-signed by 40 House members to the speaker in this regard. Earlier, he had a conversation with the speaker regarding Vajpayee's planned visit.
In 1994, McDermott was instrumental in persuading the then-speaker Tom Foley to invite then-prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to speak before a joint session. Rao was the last Indian prime minister to undertake an official visit to the US.
"When I heard that the prime minister decided to visit the United States in September, I made getting him invited to address the congress one of my top priorities," McDermott said.
The letter made it a point to highlight India's growing importance in American foreign policy, drawing attention to the country's massive consumer markets, enormous middle class, aptitude in high technology, and judicial and political stability, all of which have begun to attract greater attention from American companies.
"We have a great deal in common with India -- our commitment to democracy and law, our economic prosperity, our tradition of religious freedom. But perhaps the most important thing that ties us to India are the Indian-American citizens who have enriched this country beyond measure," he said.
He said that the impact of over 1.5 million Indian-Americans on engineering and technology, art, literature, education and culture can be felt all across the nation. "Indian-Americans are one of the most successful immigrant groups in the history of the country, and so embody and exemplify the ideals of the American dream."
Signatories of the letter included, McDermott, Carolyn Maloney, Albert Wynn, Rick Boucher, Frank Pallone, Robert Wexler, Zoe Lofgren, Darlene Hooley, John Tierney, David Minge, Gene Green, Bob Filner, Lloyd Doggett, Tom Campbell, Sherrod Brown, Adam Smith, Michael McNulty, Howard Berman, Eliot Engel, Robert Borski, David Price, James McGovern, Nick Rahall, Cliff Stearns, Jan Schakowsky, Rush Holt, Brian Baird, Pete Stark, Barbara Lee, Marty Meehan, Jay Inslee, Tom Lantos, Connie Morella, Frank Mascara, Nilta Lowey, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Knollenberg, Robert Menendez, Julia Carson, Johnny Isakson, and Jim Ramstad.
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