Obama to arrive in India on Sunday

United States President Barack Obama will arrive in India on Sunday (Jan 25) for a three-day state visit. He will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day on Monday (Jan 26), it was officially announced here and in Washington today.

Obama is the first US president to attend the Republic Day function and also the first to visit India twice while in office. He visited India the first time in November 2010.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the visit is “the culmination of a qualitative reinvigoration of our ties” following the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi last September in Washington.

Since then, both the sides have acted with alacrity, collaborated in common pursuits and have traversed along a transformative path, he added.

Akbaruddin said there have been nine India-US bilateral dialogues since September. In addition, there have been eight meetings relating to defence and security in such areas as cyber, border management, counter-improvised explosive devices, defene technology, trade initiatives and global entry programme.

On the economic and commercial fronts, there have been three meetings on matters such as smart cities, financial regulations, etc. In the Science and Technology sphere, there have been three meetings on diverse subjects, including Vaccination Programme, Scientific Research Collaboration on Monsoon. There have been ten MOUs signed in areas such as Space, Renewable Energy, Skill Development, Urban Development, to name a few.

The spokesman said the potential for growth in the Indo-US relationship is strong.

He went on: “From our perspective, the US is a key partner for capital, technology, knowledge and skills in our development effort; a potentially important source of clean energy technology and hydrocarbons; an important partner in areas like defence technology and counter-terrorism; an important factor in our space security and cyber security; a key interlocutor in adjustments to the global security and economic architecture including reforms of the UN Security Council; a partner in the quest for a rule based, open international trading and economic order; and in our efforts to seek peace and stability in our extended neighborhood and globally.”

All these issues are likely to be addressed during the meetings between Modi and Obama. “We see President Obama’s visit as strengthening our ties across the full breadth of our relations: ties between our governments, our peoples and our institutions,” he declared.

Obama arrives here at 10am on January 25, and will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He will lay a wreath and pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat.

He and Prime Minister Modi will hold bilateral discussions at Hyderabad House. The two leaders will first have a restricted meeting, followed by delegation-level talks over lunch. He will call on President Pranab Mukherjee who will host a banquet in the visiting dignitary’s honour.

On January 26, Obama will be the chief guest at the Republic Day function. Obama and Modi will address events with business leaders during the afternoon. He will attend At-home reception President Mukherjee will host in early evening.

On January 27, Obama will address a select gathering in the morning, and will fly to Agra with First Lady Michelle Obama to see the Taj Mahal. They will return to New Delhi and fly back home.

The President will be accompanied by a sizable delegation that will include several top officials, as well as First Lady Obama, the White House announced in Washington.

He will be joined in India by multiple members of his cabinet, some US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives, and a number of US business leaders during the trip.

~ www.island.lk ~ BY S VENKAT NARAYAN (Special Correspondent NEW DELHI)