Modi hugs Obama at start of three-day India visit

US President Barack Obama landed in New Delhi Sunday for the start of a three-day visit to India, receiving a hug from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he disembarked from Air Force One.

Obama, who landed in the overcast capital at around 9:40am (0410 GMT), was accorded a red carpet welcome at the start of a visit which is seen as symbolising a new warmth in sometimes strained bilateral ties.

The two leaders are due to hold detailed talks later on Sunday on a range of issues including climate change, defence cooperation and a long-delayed civil nuclear power agreement.

Obama, who is the first US president to travel to India twice while in office, will also be the chief guest at Monday’s Republic Day parade in the capital.

The visit, which follows a summit in Washington in September, comes less than a year since the Obama administration effectively ended its blacklisting of Modi.

The Hindu nationalist had been shunned by the United States and European Union following deadly communal riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002 while Modi was the chief minister.

In an interview ahead of his arrival, Obama hailed the “remarkable” rise of the 64-year-old Modi, the son of a tea-seller who was elected the leader last year of the world’s largest democracy.

Obama had been due to visit the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra on Tuesday, but he has scrapped that leg of his trip in order to attend the funeral of King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia.


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