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Obama to be Chief Guest at Republic Day parade: White House

Narendra Modi & Barack Obama

Washington, Nov 21 (PTI) For the first time, a US President will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day Parade with President Barack Obama today accepting an invitation in this regard.

“At the invitation of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, the President will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“This visit will mark the first time a US President will have the honour of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s Constitution,” he said.

“The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership,” Earnest said.

The White House announcement in this regard came after Prime Minister Modi wrote on Twitter that he has invited Obama to be the Chief Guest at India’s 66th Republic Day Parade on January 26.

Obama would be the first ever US President to travel to India twice. Obama travelled to Mumbai and New Delhi in November 2010.

The India trip assumes significance given that Obama would be travelling to India at a time, when the President normally gives his annual State of the Union Address to the Congress.

Also, the White House normally does not announce President’s travel schedule two months in advance.

After the maiden meeting between Obama and Modi at the White House on September 29 and 30, there is a new sense of energy and enthusiasm in the relationship of the two countries, which had taken a downward turn in the last two years, observers said.

In a brief interaction with the Prime Minister in Myanmar during the East Asia Summit, Obama had described Modi as a “Man of Action”.

Obama, who has promoted a new foreign policy for the Asia Pacific region, considers India as one of the key players in the region and as an anchor of political stability in the region.

This would be Obama’s second travel to Asia in less than six months and the first to South Asia after the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

The United States wants and is looking forward to India playing a major role in the political stability and development of Afghanistan post 2014.

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