New Delhi. U.S. President Donald Trump will not travel to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day Parade, and the White House has conveyed its regrets to the Narendra Modi government. The government is now exploring several other options for the event.
According to multiple government and diplomatic sources, a final decision has been conveyed to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), with Mr. Trump’s “crowded calendar” being cited as the primary reason for his not accepting the invitation.
The sources, who did not wish to be identified since neither the MEA nor the White House has yet put out a statement, also pointed to the uncertainties over the political situation in Washington, which made it hard for the U.S. to confirm Mr. Trump’s attendance at the parade on January 26 in New Delhi as reported by Hindu.
The sources pointed to the State of the Union address that the U.S. President must give during the Congress session around the same time in January.
The misgivings over Mr. Trump’s schedule had been conveyed to India when officials had first “sounded out” the U.S. administration early this year, an official confirmed.
“We always knew this would be a difficult visit to get a firm decision on, as the date for India is non-negotiable. As a result, we didn’t take it past the initial rounds of discussions, and left it to the U.S. government to work out.”
In August, in response to a direct question about whether Mr. Trump would travel to India for the Republic Day parade, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said the invitation was being processed.
“I know that the invitation has been extended, but I do not believe that a final decision has been made,” Ms. Sanders had said.
Subsequent interactions, when Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale travelled to Washington in August, the 2+2 ministerial dialogue was held in Delhi.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval went to Washington ended without any announcement on the Trump visit, leading to growing speculation that it was not happening.