Obama’s Republic Day visit great chance for bolstering ties: US officials

Updated - November 28, 2021 07:39 am IST

Published - November 22, 2014 10:25 am IST - Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed visit to India in January 2015 is a great opportunity to strengthen and expand bilateral strategic partnership, top American administration officials and experts have said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday invited Mr. Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, an invitation which has been accepted by the American leader.

“First time a U.S. President is to attend Republic Day (celebrations), which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. We are committed to strengthening and expanding the U.S.-India strategic partnership,” National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, tweeted.

“The President looks forward to traveling to India in January to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration,” she said.

Welcoming the visit Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and a close confidant of Mr. Obama, tweeted: “President Obama is honored to be going to India in January as the Chief Guest for Indian Republic Day. Sign of our close ties and friendship.”

Teresita Schaffer, a retired American diplomat said, “A great honor and opportunity in what is still a complicated relationship.”

“This is a huge deal. Obama will be part of what may be the most theatrical parade in the world. The Chief Guest slot is by far the most prestigious invitation India can extend to a foreign leader,” Ms. Schaffer wrote on her blog SouthAsiahand.cm .

“Japanese Prime Minister was last year’s honoree. Mr. Obama is the first U.S. President to be honored in this way, and the first to visit India twice during his time in office,” she said in the blog.

South Asia expert Michael Kugelman from Wilson Centre, a top American think-tank, described Mr. Obama accepting the invitation as a great news that would “send strong message just weeks after the end of drawdown in Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal , in a news dispatch from New Delhi, said the visit is a symbol of improving U.S.-India ties after Mr. Modi travelled to the U.S. in September.

“In a summit that officials said gave the two leaders an opportunity to establish a rapport, the two leaders agreed to strengthen security relations,” the daily reported.

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