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This article was first published 9 years ago  » News » Obama visiting India in January is big deal: Experts

Obama visiting India in January is big deal: Experts

November 22, 2014 10:41 IST
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United States President Barack Obama's proposed visit to India in January next year is a great opportunity to strengthen and expand bilateral strategic partnership, top American administration officials and experts have said.

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

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

"The President looks forward to travelling to India in January to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration," she said.

"President Obama is honoured to be going to India in January as the Chief Guest for Indian Republic Day. Sign of our close ties and friendship," Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and a close confidant of Obama, wrote on Twitter.

"A great honour and opportunity in what is still a complicated relationship," Teresita Schaffer, a retired American diplomat said.

"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," Schaffer wrote on her blog,

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was last year's honouree. Obama is the first US president to be honoured 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 Obama accepting the invitation as 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 US-India ties after Modi travelled to the White House 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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