Obama cuts short India visit to meet new Saudi King on Tuesday

Published: January 24, 2015
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Obama will be flying to Saudi Arabia from India. PHOTO: REUTERS

Obama will be flying to Saudi Arabia from India. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: United States President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with new King Salman to pay respects after the death of King Abdullah, the White House said on Saturday.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday where he will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attend the Republic Day parade.

He will cut short his trip, missing a planned tour of the Taj Mahal, to travel to Saudi Arabia, the White House said.

The White House had originally planned that US Vice President Joe Biden would lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia, but now that Obama will travel to Riyadh, Biden will remain in Washington.

RELATED: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies at 90, Salman becomes new ruler 

Hundreds of cleaners had been hired to spruce up the white marbled mausoleum in preparation for Obama’s arrival.

Obama is due to leave the Andrews Air Force Base later this evening, accompanied by a delegation of seven top officials as well as his wife, Michelle, the White House confirmed.

“The President is very much looking forward to this visit.  It is a genuine honour to be invited as the guest for Republic Day” and Obama “is looking forward to see the festivities associated with Republic Day firsthand,” his press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday.

With this trip being Obama’s second during his time in office, he will be having a series of meetings with political leaders in India including one with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Earnest told reporters.

After the refueling of Air Force One in Germany, Obama is due to touch down at Delhi International Airport at 10am on January 25.

Quoting Obama, Earnest said he “certainly enjoyed the conversation” that he had with Modi when the Indian leader visited Washington in September.

“I think he does see an opportunity to build a strong working relationship not just between our two countries, but between the two leaders who do share sort of a common sense of purpose and vitality,” he said.

On his arrival, Obama will be accorded a ceremonial welcome around noon at the Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi followed by a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial where he will participate in a tree planting event.

RELATED: Obama in India: 50,000 policemen, 15,000 CCTV cameras and 40 dogs to protect world’s most powerful man

Obama will then join Modi for a restricted working lunch at the Hyderabad House and participate in a “walk and talk” with the PM around 2.45pm, the White House said.

The two leaders will then have an expanded delegation-level meeting, which is expected to last for about an hour after which, they will jointly address the press.

Later in the evening, Obama is scheduled to meet embassy personnel and families at ITC Maurya Hotel followed by a state dinner with Mukherjee.

On January 26, Obama will participate in the ‘Republic Day’ celebration as the chief guest along with the First Lady. They will then attend a reception with India’s president at his residence. 

Both Obama and Modi will participate in a CEO forum roundtable and deliver views at a US-India Business Summit.

Before his departure on January 27, the US president will give an address at the Siri Fort Auditorium.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Pakistani
    Jan 24, 2015 - 12:24PM

    We should wait and see how Indians blame Pakistan for Obama’s change of heart.

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  • Umair
    Jan 24, 2015 - 12:32PM

    The visit to the “sacred” monument …
    Since when have TAJ MAHAL become a scared monument….?

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  • Mazrat ke saath
    Jan 24, 2015 - 12:36PM

    Taj Mahal isn’t a sacred monument – it is a mausoleum. Please correct it.

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  • Dev Singh
    Jan 24, 2015 - 1:07PM

    ” SACRED MONUMENT ”
    What makes this moment sacred ?

    That he got majority of the guys who worked on this monument killed or their hands chopped off so that they won’t be able to make another one like this . By the way this sacred monument is built for his 9 th wife ….Sacred it is

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  • Vectra
    Jan 24, 2015 - 1:23PM

    Hmm understandable situation with sudden death of Saudi King whose funeral falls on 27th and who once was an ally who stood by US at various occasions,Its is earlier reported that Obama will be there in India for 3 days i.e on 25th,26th and 27th full but now he will depart a bit early on 27th to attend Saudi funeral.Nevertheless unexpected situation demand such a bit a change in plan here and there.

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  • Vectra
    Jan 24, 2015 - 1:23PM

    Hmm understandable situation with sudden death of Saudi King whose funeral falls on 27th and who once was an ally who stood by US at various occasions,Its is earlier reported that Obama will be there in India for 3 days i.e on 25th,26th and 27th full but now he will depart a bit early on 27th to attend Saudi funeral.Nevertheless unexpected situation demand such a bit a change in plan here and there

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  • asim naseer
    Jan 24, 2015 - 1:38PM

    Misleading headline. Departure to or from india?

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  • harkol
    Jan 24, 2015 - 1:42PM

    India refused to allow Obama’s vehicle near Tajmahal. Supreme Court of India had given an order banning all petrol & diesel run vehicles near Tajmahal to protect it from pollution. Only electric vehicles can go the last mile.

    But, Obama’s security detail wasn’t happy about this arrangement, as they want to use their armoured vehicles. Sine that would be a violation of Indian law, Indian govt. did not accept.

    So, the visit stood cancelled. I am so proud that India did not compromise on its laws even for a special guest. That is how it should be.

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  • Omar
    Jan 24, 2015 - 2:00PM

    Sacred monument?!

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  • nkhan
    Jan 24, 2015 - 2:28PM

    Pakistan has sacrificed alot in this war of terrorism, which was not even a war held by Pakistan….. but still we face and declared as one of the worst state of the world…..Biggest discrimination is done by “US” itself, if Chinese premiere can visit Pakistan, why cant obama…. and still our leader look toward US policies and aids…….
    Pakistan should play his cards and should be making a strong block with China and Russia…….But as long as our “capable” leaders would be ruling this country, so we can only dream that it would happen…..

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  • Zaman
    Jan 24, 2015 - 2:46PM

    Cowards! Everywhere!

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  • ModiFied
    Jan 24, 2015 - 2:48PM

    There is no security issue here. Its is a simple commonsense and diplomatic curtsy that Obama should be paying homage to the late King of the closest ally country in the middle east. Goind around Taj Mahal when Saudis are mourning, would have sent very mad massage.

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  • Jan 24, 2015 - 3:12PM

    Looks like Modi is wearing his Mao jacket. You can see the
    working side pocket. For his pens and pencils, idlis, dosas.

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  • Tyggar
    Jan 24, 2015 - 6:44PM

    @Gul Zaman Ghorgasht:
    Looks like Modi is wearing his Mao jacket
    Wrong! That is called a Jodhpuri suit or Bandhgala Suit. A Mao jacket has pockets both sides on the top too

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodhpuri

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  • jiyala
    Jan 24, 2015 - 8:37PM

    USA’s hypocrisy is unbelievable. On one hand, they claim to be the champions of democracy and freedom, and on the other, they are best buddies with monarchs and kings who proudly trample all kinds of civil liberties under their feet. I mean hello? Is there any shame left in you?

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  • shaz
    Jan 24, 2015 - 8:39PM

    Poor indian feel pity for them. Had been crying like babies but Obama cut it short. Obama actually is a wise person he has decided to go some valuable place than wasting time in India.

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  • Arthur Roslin
    Jan 24, 2015 - 9:52PM

    Obama’s visit to the Taj Mahal was a personal visit arranged at the request of Obama as a courtesy. There was no benefit to India due to his. Good it was cancelled as India would have to make many security arrangements. The main purpose of the visit which is to enter into defense technology and investment deals which remains intact. Good for India!!!!

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  • Tan
    Jan 25, 2015 - 2:06AM

    @Shaz: Poor Guy! Don’t Cry!
    We know, the Grapes are always sour for you guys esp. when your ‘all time’ and ‘all weather’ friends deny to visit your Nation (?)
    UNDERSTANDABLE!! ;-)

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  • Dishum
    Jan 25, 2015 - 2:21AM

    @ Gul Zaman: Don’t put idli and dosas in your pocket. Use a plate, fork and knife which can be imported from China if not available locally.

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  • ABC
    Jan 26, 2015 - 11:54AM

    @Vectra:

    There is a thing called grammar check. Have you heard of it?

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