Washington/New Delhi: US President Barack Obama will travel to Riyadh to condole the death of Saudi Arabia’s king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and will not visit Agra, the White House said on Saturday.
An Indian army personnel patrols the Rajpath a day before Barack Obama’s visit to the capital. Pic/PTI
Obama and his wife Michelle “will travel to Riyadh” on Tuesday in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” the statement, issued by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, said. Obama will arrive in India today on a three-day visit, ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in the capital.
He was to visit Agra on January 27. According to the statement earlier Vice President Joe Biden was supposed to lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia on the president’s behalf”. “As the president’s and vice president’s travel schedules became clearer, we determined that the window when the vice president would be on the ground in Riyadh coincided with the president’s departure from India.
“Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule in coordination with the Indian government so that the president would be able to depart from India following his speech on Tuesday to stop in Riyadh during the return trip to meet with King Salman and other Saudi officials and offer his condolences on behalf of the American people.” The White House said that Obama “regrets that he will be unable to visit Agra during this trip”.
Packed Sunday awaits Barack Obama
Obama has a packed schedule right from the moment the presidential plane, Air Force One, lands in New Delhi at 10 am. The presidential entourage would drive down to the ITC Maurya, where the US first couple is staying.
The super luxury hotel has been made out of bounds for other guests till the duration of the visit and a stringent security blanket thrown around the hotel. The presidential car, The Beast, has also arrived in the capital.
At noon, the US president would be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be present. The presentation will begin with an invocation from ancient Rig Veda, followed by short presentations in each style with dancers coming together for the finale.
The programme will showcase five forms of Indian classical dances Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. The performance is choreographed by dancer Madhavi Mudgal. Later, he will go to the Raj Ghat to lay a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. He would also plant a sapling at the venue.
After lunch with Modi, the two leaders will hold delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House and would address the media at the venue. Then Obama would call on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and attend the banquet hosted by the president.
Obama, Modi to discuss how to counter terrorism
With US concerned about ‘safe havens’ in some areas of Pakistan where extremists operate in virtual impunity, counterterrorism coordination would be a key topic of discussions between Obama and Prime Minister
“Certainly the United States values the counterterrorism coordination relationship that we have with India. And we certainly are interested in discussing with them ways that we can strengthen that relationship,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.