US President Donald Trump has reportedly turned down India's invitation to be the chief guest at the 70th Republic Day parade on 26 January 2019. The Indian government was hopeful that Trump would attend but it has received information that a visit at that time won't be possible for the US president, The Asian Age reported.
This comes at a time when the India-US relationship is already testing troubled waters. The US had recently issued a warning against India if it goes ahead with signing the S-400 missile system deal with Russia but India went ahead and signed the deal for five such systems when Russian President Vladimir Putin came down to the country earlier in October.
Besides this, the Trump administration has been threatening India with sanctions if it continues to procure oil from Iran, however, India hasn't yet stopped its import from the West Asian country.
According to an India Today report, the reason cited by the Trump administration to turn down the invite is that Trump has other pressing engagement on the same date.
Trump reportedly has to deliver the State of The Union (SOTU) address and its timing coincides with the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.
The address, according to reports, “includes a budget message and an economic report of the nation, and also allows the president to propose their outlined legislative agenda and national priorities”.
However, in 2015 — when the then US President Barack Obama visited India for Republic Day — the date of the SOTU address was postponed. The date of the address is not fixed, but it has to be delivered between 22 January and the first week of February.
In August, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had confirmed that Trump had received an invitation to visit India. "I know that the invitation has been extended, but I do not believe that a final decision has been made," Sanders had told reporters then.
However, according to The Times of India, Trump's decision was conveyed in the form of a letter from US authorities to NSA Ajit Doval recently. The letter is said to have comprised a regret message from the US president.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry has not given an official statement yet and the American embassy in Delhi has said that only the White House can talk on the president's travel plans, NDTV reported.
Updated Date: Oct 28, 2018 18:32 PM