US President Donald Trump has reportedly rejected the Indian government’s invite to be the chief guest at the next year’s Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.
The US, according to a report by Times of India, has conveyed Trump’s decision in a letter, addressed to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Trump, in his regret letter, is believed to have cited his domestic commitments and the State of the Union address as reasons for turning down India’s request.
This comes in sharp contrast to how the former US President Barack Obama accepted Modi’s invitation despite facing similar commitments of the domestic politics and arrived in India as the chief guest of the Republic Day in 2015.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had confirmed receiving India’s invitation in August this year stating that ‘I know the invitation has been extended. I don’t believe a final decision has been made.’
A report by News18 said that India had two possible options now that Trump has turned down Modi’s request. India could either invite Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, who is travelling to Varanasi for the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas from 21 to 23 January. He may also travel to Allahabad to take part in the Ardh Kumbh.
The other option for India is to invite Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, who too is scheduled to arrive in the country in January next year.
Trump turning down Modi’s request has come as a sign of growing strain in the diplomatic ties between the two countries, particularly after India decided to buy arms from Russia and import oil from Iran.
The next year’s Republic Day will be Modi’s last event as prime minister unless he gets re-elected in the parliamentary polls, scheduled for April-May in 2019.