Low point in India-US ties? Trump snubs invite for 70th Republic Day celebrations

New Delhi: US president has reportedly turned down declined India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the 70th Republic Day celebrations in January, as per reports.

However, no official announcement has been made about the same by either the Indian foreign ministry or the US embassy.

In early August, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had confirmed Trump received an invite to visit India. “I know that the invitation has been extended, but I do not believe that a final decision has been made,” Sanders told reporters then.

But with a crowded domestic calendar — mid-term elections in November and the State of the Union address between 21 and 29 January besides some international commitments — Trump’s visit to India in January was seen as difficult to pin down, according to officials.

Low point in India-US ties?

  • For the last few weeks, US officials have been indicating that Trump would not fly to India in January as the State of the Union address is scheduled in the winter month.
  • However, former US president Barack Obama came to India twice and also attended the Republic Day celebrations in 2015 on his second visit, despite the State of the Union address falling in January every year.
  • Trump turning down the invitation could be seen as a low point in India-US ties, despite the good rapport Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he appears to have in public.
  • Trump declining India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations comes at a time when India and the US are engaged in a number of delicate negotiations – from waivers on sanctions that can be imposed on India for buying oil from Iran and the S-400 air defence system from Russia to a special trade package.

If Trump had made it, he would have been only the second US president to be invited by New Delhi to be the chief guest for the event since India became an independent country in 1947.

Guests for Republic Day are chosen from countries that are strategically important to India, according to analysts. In the past, the guests have included heads of state or government from India’s immediate neighbourhood, permanent members of the UN Security Council like France and leaders from the developing world like Indonesia and Brazil.