Washington, Jan 24: It is a "genuine honour" for US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade and witness India's national day celebrations firsthand, the White House has said.
"The President is very much looking forward to this visit. It is a genuine honour to be invited as guest for Republic Day. He is looking forward to traveling there to see the festivities associated with Republic Day firsthand. "We've got many colourful descriptions about the parade and other festivities that go along with marking this important day," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
Obama has not attended any national day ceremonies of any other countries. He will arrive in New Delhi early on Sunday for a three-day visit that include bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an interaction with CEOs and influential business leaders and a visit to Taj Mahal.
"The President is looking forward to a series of serious meetings with political leaders in India and certainly the meeting that he'll have with Prime Minister Modi," he said. Earnest said Obama sees an opportunity to build a strong working relationship, not just between the two countries, but between the two leaders who share a "sort of a common sense of purpose and vitality".
"Prime Minister Modi is very interested in injecting energy and vitality into the relationship between the US and India. President Obama shares that desire and the first-ever second trip by a US president to India reflects the president's commitment to India, the Indian people, and the (bilateral) relationship," Earnest said.
Economics, he said, is an important component on the agenda for Obama's India visit. "There will be a number of US business leaders who'll be traveling to India in conjunction with the President's visit. That is because there are tremendous economic opportunities for American businesses in India," he said. "He's the American President and he's most interested in strengthening the (bilateral) ties to benefit the American people. Certainly, the business opportunity that exist in India serves as a good opportunity to do just that," the White House Press Secretary said.