After US President Donald Trump had turned down its invitation for the ceremony, the government is now exploring options as to who will replace Trump as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
“We have very little time left for deciding on the chief guest and the process will be completed soon,” a source familiar with the development said. Trump has declined India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the parade, citing pressing engagements, including his State of The Union (SOTU) address, around the time India will celebrate its Republic Day.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had, in July, said that Trump has received an invitation to visit India, but no decision has been taken yet.
“President Trump was honoured by Prime Minister Modi’s invitation for him to be Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day on January 26, 2019 but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints,” a White House spokesperson said, when asked about Trump’s decision on Modi’s invitation.
It is said that the annual State of the Union address to both Houses of the US Congress by Trump is likely to be around the time India will celebrate its Republic Day. The SOTU is normally delivered in the last week of January or first week of February.
The spokesperson said that the US President and Modi enjoy a strong personal rapport and Trump is committed to deepening the India-US relationship.
“The President enjoys a strong personal rapport with Prime Minister Modi developed through two meetings and several phone calls and remains committed to deepening the US-India strategic partnership,” the spokesperson said.
“The President very much looks forward to meeting Prime Minister Modi again at the earliest opportunity,” the White House spokesperson said.
Modi and Trump are scheduled to attend the G-20 Summit in Argentina on November 30 and December 1. It is possible that the two leaders might meet and discuss bilateral relationship there.