By Julian Hattem - 05/26/14 10:42 AM EDT
President Obama offered his official congratulations to the new prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, on Monday.
As Modi was sworn in at the presidential palace in Delhi, White House press secretary Jay Carney passed along the White House’s sentiments and said that the two countries “share a deep bond and commitment to promoting economic opportunity, freedom, and security for our people and around the world.”
The United States and India are the two largest democracies in the world, and the relationship between the two nations could be critical for the economic and political future of Asia.
Obama invited Modi to Washington this month, despite a decade-long travel ban that had been in place over his role in anti-Muslim riots. Those 2002 riots led to an estimated 2,000 people dead in the Indian state of Gujarat while Modi was governor.
Modi’s swearing-in ceremony was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a move that some analysts hoped would signal a new spirit of friendship between the two nations, which have had an acrimonious relationship. Monday is the first time a prime minister from one of the countries has attended a swearing-in ceremony of another since the two won independence in 1947.
The move is especially promising given Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Modi’s party won a landslide victory earlier this month, taking home the largest victory by any political party in the country for three decades.