Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday welcomed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief guest for the 2019 Republic Day celebrations, moments after the South Africa President accepted the invitation extended by PM Modi.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi said he was glad to have met President Ramaphosa and it was an honour that he would visit India when the country is marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He also said that Mahatma Gandhi's close link with South Africa is well known.
He added President Ramaphosa's visit will further cement business ties as well as ties between people of India and South Africa.
"Glad to have met President @CyrilRamaphosa. At a time when India is marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, it is our honour to welcome President Ramaphosa as the Chief Guest for the 2019 Republic Day celebrations. Bapu's close link with South Africa is well known. The upcoming visit of President @CyrilRamaphosa, and that too during the special occasion of India's Republic Day will further cement business and people-to-people ties between India and South Africa," tweeted PM Modi.
The South African president was invited by the Prime Minister while the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson took to Twitter and said, "150 years of Mahatma & 100 years of Madiba! Good meeting between PM @narendramodi & South Africa President @CyrilRamaphosa on margins of #G20Summit. President Ramaphosa accepted India's invitation to be the Chief Guest at Republic Day during 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi."
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, "PM had a number of bilateral engagements this morning. Argentina PM is keen to make a visit to India in 2019. PM extended South Africa Pres Cyril Ramaphosa invitation to be the chief guest for India's Republic Day in 2019 and Ramaphosa accepted."
The announcement comes more than a month after the US President Donald Trump declined India's invitation to be the chief guest at Republic Day. A White House spokesperson had said, "President Trump was honoured by Prime Minister Modi's invitation for him to be Chief Guest of India's Republic Day on January 26, 2019 but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints."