Washington: Though they were meeting for the first time on Monday night over an intimate dinner, US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi developed an instant rapport with each other, which was reflected in the two leaders sharing personal stories and experiences, a senior administration official said.
It became very evident when during the dinner meeting which lasted for about 90 minutes, Obama in a rare exception decided to join Modi on his visit to the Martin Luther King Jr memorial, despite his jam-packed schedule.
Obama in fact gave a tour of the memorial to Modi. "You can look at a number of different components of the visit that really is illustrative of just how personal the dialogue was," said Phil Reiner, Senior Director for India at the National Security Council at the White House.
"The fact of the matter being that the President of the United States went with the Prime Minister of India to the Martin Luther King memorial...is indicative of just how comfortable they had gotten to be," he told foreign correspondents during a media round table.
"In the dinner itself, the President was able to look fondly back upon his time when he was in India with his family. I think there some conversation about how enjoyable it was to be in India and to be able to dance. This was, I think, a very warm moment. I think that the prime minister remarked upon his time when he was back here in DC years ago," he said.
The two leaders shared a lot of stories. "Probably the most interesting was they found a great deal of common experience when it comes to first coming into government and realising just how bad government works, and acknowledging that there is so much more that could be done in government with technology, but it's just so much slower inside," he said.
"So you have to bring in the right people who can help you actually achieve a greater speed with processes, et cetera.
There was actually a moment where you had had a succession of back-and-forth between the two leaders where the prime minister would say something, and the President would say, 'Yeah, I identify with that'," Reiner said.
"Because when the President came in, he was facing the greatest economic catastrophe this country the world has seen since the Depression in the '30s. The Prime Minister was speaking to the same, that India has faced a mass exodus of industrial investment and that as he has come in the door, you've already seen a turnaround. You've seen the stock market really explode. You've seen the growth rate rise," he said.