New Delhi: In a major diplomatic victory for the NDA government and a massive boost to Indo-American ties, US President Barack Obama on Friday accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invite to be the chief guest at India's 66th Republic Day Parade on January 26 next year.
Conforming this the White House tweeted - “At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, the President will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest. This visit will mark the first time a U.S. president will have the honor of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 21, 2014
Obama will be the first US President to be the 'Guest of Honour' on January 26.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke the news on Twitter, saying, “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over…invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.”
This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over…invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 21, 2014
Obama's acceptance on PM Modi's invite is seen as an effort by the United States to forge new global partnership with India.
Former US diplomat Nicholas Burns gave a quick reaction over this development saying that 'Obama's India visit will start a new chapter of Indo-US ties', as quoted by an English news channel.
As per sources, the decision to invite the US Prez was taken by PM Modi himself who decided to go beyond the MEA's list of potential invitees to seek to scale up the Republic Day celebrations by turning the event into a major diplomatic outreach.
Later, government officials confirmed that the invite to Barack Obama was the idea of the PM, who felt that the presence of the leader of the oldest democracy on the day to commemorate the foundation of the largest democracy would mark a celebration of the spirit of democracy besides giving a fillip to his effort to restore the warmth in bilateral ties.
Terming PM Modi's US visit as "extraordinarily successful", a top official in the Obama administration had said that US-India relationship has come "a remarkable distance".
"We've just had the extraordinarily successful visit of Prime Minister Modi here to the United States, and an agenda that is working across virtually every issue of importance to us with India that we're carrying forward," Anthony Blinken, nominee for US Deputy Secretary of State, told Senators during his confirmation hearing today.
The invitation to Obama comes weeks after PM Modi's hugely successful visit to the US. Modi and Obama also met on the sidelines of G20 summit in Brisbane on Nov 14. Obama had called Modi a "man of action."
This will be Obama's second visit to India. He had visited India in 2010 at the invitation of then prime minister Manmohan Singh and had addressed a joint session of Parliament.
Obama had earlier on September 29 hosted a private dinner for Prime Minister Modi at the White House during the latter's US visit.
India-US bilateral relations have developed into a global strategic partnership, based on increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues.
Regular exchange of high-level political visits coupled with wide-ranging dialogue architecture has enabled sustained momentum to bilateral cooperation and helped establish a long-term framework for India-US global strategic partnership.
The bilateral cooperation is now broad-based and multi-sectoral, covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology, cyber security, high technology, civil nuclear energy, space technology and applications, clean energy, environment, agriculture and health.
(With Agency inputs)