Washington, Jan 5: As US President Barack Obama arrived at the White House after vacationing in picturesque Hawaii; it is South Asia -- India, Pakistan and Afghanistan -- that would be focus during the month in January on the foreign policy front.
In fact, both Obama and his top diplomat Secretary of State John Kerry would kick-off their foreign trips of the year with India, which officials said is reflective of the serious efforts made by the administration to not only strengthen India-US relationship but also to send a message to the countries of the region and other major international players too.
Preparations would begin in full swing this week, for Obama's India visit to attend the January 26 Republic Day Parade as chief guest. His visit would be preceded by Kerry's Ahmedabad visit to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.
Thereafter Kerry is likely to travel to Pakistan for US-Pak Strategic Dialogue. And sometime in February Obama would host the new Afghan leadership President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Dr Abdullah Abdullah at the White House. A formal announcement of Kerry's trip to India and Pakistan and that of Afghan leadership to the US has not been made yet.
Obama was invited by Narendra Modi to attend the Republic Day celebrations
But the three high-profile visits reflects the foreign policy priority of the US President as he enters the last two years of his presidency. Under the US constitution, Obama who was first elected as the US President in 2008 and then re-elected in 2012, can not run for a third term.
Obama himself is looking forward to his second trip to India and before he left for his annual vacation had issued instruction to his officials to work on specific deliverables to realise the true potential of India-US Strategic relationship in the 21st century.
The first non-white American President, Obama has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the Republic Day Parade on January 26. He is the first US President to do so. He is also the first American President to visit India twice.