White House calls Indias R-Day invite a ‘genuine honour’

Washington: The entire city is beefed up and security teams are leaving no stone unturned for the R-Day where US President Barack Obama will be the chief guest.

The White House called it a “genuine honour” and said he was very interested in injecting a new energy and vitality into the US-India relationship.

“The President is very much looking forward to this visit. It is a genuine honour to be invited as the guest for Republic Day” and Obama “is looking forward to see the festivities associated with Republic Day firsthand,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“We’ve got many colourful descriptions about the parade and other festivities that go along with marking this important day,” Earnest added.

Obama has not attended any national day ceremonies of any other countries. He will arrive in New Delhi early on Sunday for a three-day visit that include bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an interaction with CEOs and influential business leaders and a visit to Taj Mahal.

“The President is looking forward to a series of serious meetings with political leaders in India and certainly the meeting that he’ll have with Prime Minister Modi,” he said.

Earnest said Obama sees an opportunity to build a strong working relationship, not just between the two countries, but between the two leaders who share a “sort of a common sense of purpose and vitality”.

“Prime Minister Modi is very interested in injecting energy and vitality into the relationship between the US and India. President Obama shares that desire and the first-ever second trip by a US president to India reflects the president’s commitment to India, the Indian people, and the (bilateral) relationship,” Earnest said.

Economics, he said, is an important component on the agenda for Mr. Obama’s India visit. “There will be a number of US business leaders who’ll be travelling to India in conjunction with the President’s visit. That is because there are tremendous economic opportunities for American businesses in India,” added.

Asked about Modi`s “Make in India” call, the spokesman said there is an important economic component to the policy agenda in India.

There will be a number of US business leaders who will be travelling to India in conjunction with the President’s visit, and that is because there are tremendous economic opportunities for American businesses in India,”

“He’s the American President and he’s most interested in strengthening the (bilateral) ties to benefit the American people. Certainly, the business opportunity that exist in India serves as a good opportunity to do just that,” the White House Press Secretary said.

However, if reports are to be believed, Obama is likely to cancel Taj visit and there can be a possible change in the trip.

According to sources, the US security personnel found loopholes in security measures that resulted in cancellation of the Taj visit.

Meanwhile, Indian police and other security and intelligence teams have complained internally of being bullied by their American counterparts, with some of their demands crossing “all limits.”

Sources said the Secret Service agents on Thursday mounted extra pressure on the Indian security agencies to submit them a final report over security arrangements in the capital by evening.

An official said they have left no space for any security breach but the satisfaction level of the Secret Service team is “beyond the limits”.

Another source said the advance US Secret Service agents are “interfering in all security arrangements and trying to show themselves as more competent and with more expertise”.

Since the US Secret Service team arrived in the capital, they are “demanding new things and trying to point out loopholes in several aspects”, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)


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