Obama to be chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations

Saturday, 22 November 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to India in January for Republic Day celebrations, a sign of steadily expanding ties between the two countries that share concerns about China’s growing power in Asia. Obama was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will be the first U.S. president to attend a Republic Day celebration, the White House said on Friday. It said Obama will meet with Modi and other Indian officials. Diplomats said Obama would be first U.S. president to visit India twice while in office. He also went in 2010. In a Twitter message, Modi said Obama would be the chief guest at the celebrations and military parade on Republic Day, which marks the enactment of India’s constitution on Jan. 26, 1950. India’s relations with Washington have flourished in the past decade. The two countries are developing a strategic partnership prompted by shared concerns about China’s increasingly assertive behavior in the Asia Pacific region, although they have also had tussles over trade and other issues. Modi met Obama on a visit to the United States in September and they have spoken on the telephone since. Their relationship is thought to have helped resolve a major trade spat in the World Trade Organization. Modi was denied entry into the United States from 2005 until he was elected prime minister in May, after allegations he did too little to stop religious riots that killed at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in his home state of Gujarat. Modi denies any wrongdoing and the Supreme Court investigation did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute him. India traditionally invites a head of state to participate as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, which culminates in a military parade including its nuclear capable missiles. Much of the hardware dates back to the Soviet era, when India had close ties with Moscow and relations with the United States were marked by mistrust. More recent defense purchases include billions of dollars of U.S.-made equipment.