New Delhi: US President Barack Obama along with his wife Michelle Obama left from the Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday evening for his highly anticipated three-day landmark trip to India.
Shortly before the Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, took off from US, the White House confirmed the cancellation of the US President and US first lady Michelle Obama's visit to Taj Mahal in Agra on January 27. As per the initial plan Obama was to visit Taj Mahal along with his wife on January 27.
The President is accompanied by a sizeable delegation that will include several top officials. Obama is travelling to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Presidential aircraft will have a brief refuelling halt at Ramstein in Germany and will touch down in Delhi at 10 am on Sunday at Air Force Station, Palam.
The President, who is making his second visit to India, will be joined there by multiple members of his Cabinet, influential business leaders and a host of US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives.
On his arrival, Obama will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at about 12 noon at the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thereafter, he will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and participate in a tree planting event there.
Obama will then join PM Modi for a restricted working lunch at the Hyderabad House and participate in a "walk and talk" with the Indian Prime Minister there, the White House said.
The two leaders will then have an expanded delegation level meeting, which is expected to last for about an hour.
Later in the evening, Obama is scheduled to meet US embassy personnel and families at ITC Maurya Hotel. He will then drive down to Rashtrapati Bhawan to attend the state banquet hosted by President Mukherjee.
On January 26, Obama will participate in the Republic Day celebration as the chief guest along with the First Lady. Later, the Obamas will attend a 'At Home' reception hosted by President Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
In the afternoon, Obama and Modi will participate in a CEO forum roundtable and make remarks at a US-India Business Summit.
On January 27 morning, the US President will give an address at Siri Fort Auditorium and then leave for Saudi Arabia.
Obama will travel to Riyadh in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Earlier today, according to reports, the security chief who was organising President Obama's Agra visit received a letter stating that the advisors of the visiting dignitary were allegedly unhappy over a 150 metre stretch near the Taj Mahal that he would have had to walk. No vehicle is allowed upto the main outer gate of the mausoleum.
The entire stretch from Delhi to Agra was supposed to remain under high alert January 27 and for three hours people would not be able to use their mobile phones in the vicinity of the Taj Ganj area, the Mall road and the Fatehabad road as electronic jammers would be in operation, officials said.
Meanwhile, India's national capital has turn into a virtual fortress ahead of US President's arrival here tomorrow, with over 45,000 security personnel guarding roads and 15,000 CCTV cameras keeping a hawk's eye on various areas.
Around 20,000 personnel will be deployed on specific locations from January 25, the day Obama arrives in Delhi and the number will almost double the next day, Delhi Police said.
Police said over 45,000 security personnel will be deployed on the streets of the national capital January 26 for the Republic Day celebrations. Obama's will be the chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade.
Around 15,000 newly-installed CCTV cameras will be used to keep watch in areas where Obama's cavalcade will move as also some other roads and markets.
With PTI inputs