Narendra Modi with astronaut Kalpana Chawla’s family.
Narendra Modi with astronaut Kalpana Chawla’s family.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his most recent visit to the U.S. by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and paying homage to the late Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla at the Arlington National Cemetery Monday.

“Honoring sacrifice, saluting valor. Formal engagements begin with a solemn ceremony,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

“In homage to heroism and indomitable courage,” Swarup said in another tweet.

Modi also met briefly with the husband and family members of Chawla, senior officials from NASA and Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and her father at the Space Shuttle Columbia memorial. The prime minister extended Williams and her father an open invitation to come visit him in India whenever they’re able.

“All of us are very honored that he took time to come and acknowledge the shuttle catastrophe and the deep cooperation that we have with India in the space world,” Williams said.

Modi was accompanied by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, as well as Ambassadors Arun K Singh and Richard Verma and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal.