Indian and U.S. diplomats are “in discussions” to see if U.S. President Donald Trump could visit India in early 2019, officials confirmed, amid reports that Mr. Trump may even be next year’s Republic Day chief guest.
“We have no comments to make on this matter”, said official sources, but declined to deny a specific report on Mr. Trump having been invited for January 26 next year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited Mr. Trump and his family to India, when he visited Washington in June 2017.
A senior diplomat said the U.S. President was keen to visit, but would only be able to schedule the visit after mid-term Congressional elections this November, indicating “early 2019” as the possible date for a visit.
If Mr. Trump visits India for the Republic Day parade, he would be the second U.S. President after Barack Obama to be invited as the chief guest in the past four years, an unusual repetition for the government to make. It would indicate the importance of the Indo-U.S. relationship, which has undergone a strain recently over the U.S. announcement of sanctions against countries dealing with Russia and Iran.
The 2+2 dialogue between Foreign and Defence Ministers on both sides was also put off in July after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to North Korea instead, and is now expected to be rescheduled in Delhi in early September when Defence Secretary James Mattis is already due to visit.