Barack Obama breaks tradition of staying at now Chinese-owned hotel

Washington: Breaking a long established tradition, US President Barack Obama and his entourage would not stay at the now Chinese-owned Waldrof Astoria hotel in New York when he travels to the city to attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly later this month.

Barack Obama breaks tradition of staying at now Chinese-owned hotelBarack Obama. Pic/AFP

Instead, Obama would be staying at the luxurious New York Palace hotel, the White House confirmed yesterday. Notably, Indian Prime Ministers over the past few years have stayed at the New York Palace hotel, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the Big Apple last September.

Modi is scheduled to visit New York later this month to attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly. As a result of the decision by the White House that Obama and his entourage would stay at the New York Palace Hotel, the Indian Prime Minister is unlikely to stay at the hotel.

"I can confirm the report that the President will stay - and the rest of the US delegation will stay at the New York Palace Hotel," the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters at his daily news conference.

For the past several decades, it was a tradition for the US Presidents to stay at the Waldrof Astoria. However, the White House was having second thoughts after the hotel owned by Hilton Worldwide Holdings was sold to a Chinese conglomerate last year.

Given the allegations that large scale cyber-attack in the US emanates from China, US officials and security experts raised concerns about espionage and security of the president at Waldrof Astoria. The White House, however, did not give a reason for this. "Obviously, there are a range of considerations that influence where the President will stay when he is not at the White House. Those considerations include everything from available space to cost and to security.

"And, while I don't have the details on the specific arrangement that's in place for the President's trip to New York in a couple of weeks, I can confirm that report that the President will stay and the rest of the US delegation will stay at the New York Palace Hotel," Earnest said.

Given that the US President and his large security entourage along with that of the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry would be occupying a significant portion of the New York Palace hotel, it is unlikely to be the temporary residence of the Indian Prime Minister when he travels to New York later this month.

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