A day after Russian defence minister’s visit to Pakistan and offering defence supplies, India announed on Friday its intent to invite US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Jan 26, 2015 Republic Day parade, one that showcases India’s defence capabilities.
“This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over…invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest,” Modi tweeted.
The invitation to Obama comes weeks after Modi’s hugely successful visit to the US. Modi and Obama also met on the sidelines of G20 summit in Brisbane on Nov 14. Obama had called Modi a “man of action.”
If accepted, this will be Obama’s second visit to India. He had visited India in 2010 at the invitation of then prime minister Manmohan Singh and had addressed a joint session of parliament.
Last year’s Republic Day celebration saw Russian President Vladimir Putin as the chief guest in 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014. The tradition of inviting a chief guest for the Republic Day started in 1950 with Indonesian President Sukarno and with recurrent breaks, the tradition has been regularly followed since 1971.
So far, no US president visited India for the Republic Day parade and Obama would be the first president to do so and also it will heighten the importance both nations accord to bilateral ties.