“In the presence of astronaut Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla's family,” Vikas Swarup,  Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, twitted Prime Minister’s picture.

Earlier, PM Modi laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers and paid homage to Indian-American astronaut late Kalpana Chawla at Arlington National Cemetery here.

"Honouring sacrifice, saluting valour. Formal engagements begin with a solemn ceremony," Swarup tweeted.
"In homage to heroism and indomitable courage," he said in another tweet.

He also had a brief interaction with the husband and family members of Chawla, senior officials from NASA, Sunita Williams and her father at Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter accompanied the Prime Minister. Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal were also present on the occasion.

"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 after her brief interaction with PM Modi.

"Personally it is commemorating my friend (Kalpana Chawala)," Williams said. PM Modi spoke to Sunita's father in Gujarati and invited them to visit India.

"With health permitting, I definitely look forward to visiting India," her father said.

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