American president Donald Trump has reportedly turned down the Indian government’s invitation to be its chief Republic Day guest in January, according to local media reports.
According to India Today TV, administration officials have told the Indian government that the President has other engagements, including the annual ‘State of the Union’ address.
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama was chief guest at Republic Day and postponed the State of the Union address, which has no fixed date but must be made between January 22 and early February.
In August, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that the administration received the invite, but said that a final decision had yet to be made.
If confirmed, Trump’s decline of the invitation comes at a time in which US-Indian relations are strained, partly because of India’s deal for Russian S-400 missile systems – which the US had warned India against – as well as the country’s continued importation of Iranian oil, for which Trump has threatened sanctions.
Recent chief guests for Republic Day – which marks the Indian constitution coming into effect on January 26, 1950 – have included His Highness Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as France’s Francoise Hollande, Barack Obama and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
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