White House to host fasting Indian leader -- for dinner

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join President Obama for dinner on Monday and attend a State Department lunch the next day. But there's one hitch.

Modi won't eat any of the food.

The new prime minister is in the midst of a nine-day fast dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga and consumes only water or lemon water. His first visit to Washington as leader of the world's largest democracy, for his first meeting with Obama, raises the prospect of the fasting Modi conducting his nation's business at tables where multiple courses of food are being served.

Modi says he has observed the fast for more than 35 years.

White House officials said Friday that the dietary and other needs of visiting foreign leaders are always taken into account and that Modi is no exception. Monday's dinner is slated to be a working meal that will include a number of representatives from both countries.

"If Prime Minister Modi or other members who are participating in that working dinner ... choose not to eat based on their own religious or cultural observance, then we'll certainly work to accommodate their needs as best we can," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Modi is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday, meet Obama for the first time over dinner and spend the night at Blair House, the government guest house across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. On Tuesday, Obama welcomes Modi to the Oval Office before the prime minister visits the State Department for lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Modi arrived in the U.S. on Friday.