Page 45 - IACC Newsletter March-April 2014 Issue 03

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U.S. President Barack Obama to be chief guest at Republic Day celebrations
U.S. President Barack Obama will attend India's Republic Day celebrations in January as chief guest, a sign of steadily
expanding ties between two countries that share concerns about China's growing power in Asia. Obama was invited by
PrimeMinisterNarendraModi andwill be the first U.S. president to attend a Republic Day celebration, the White House
said on Friday. Diplomats saidObama, who visited India in 2010, would also be the first U.S. president to visit the country
twice while in office.
India's relations withWashington have flourished in the past decade, although they have also had tussles over trade and
other issues. The two countries are developing a strategic partnership prompted by shared concerns about China's
increasingly assertive territorial claims in the Asia-Pacific region. Modi met Obama on a visit to the United States in
September and they have spoken by telephone since. Their relationship is thought to have helped resolve a major trade
spat in the World Trade Organization.
Modi used a Twitter message to announce Obama as the chief guest on Republic Day, which marks the enactment of
India's constitution on Jan. 26, 1950. Dhruva Jaishankar, a South Asia specialist at the GermanMarshall Fund of the United
States, said the invitation to Obama was a sign of "a radically altering political calculus" in New Delhi, where previous
leaders traditionally sought to keep some distance fromWashington.
"This visit will also mark a real turnaround over eight or nine months ago, when questions were still being asked about
Modi’s willingness to cooperate with the United States, given his history of having been denied a visa," Jaishankar said.
Modi was denied entry into the United States from 2005 until he was elected prime minister in May, after allegations he
did too little to stop religious riots that killed at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in his home state of Gujarat. Modi
denied any wrongdoing.
India traditionally invites ahead of state to participate as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, which culminates in a
military parade including its nuclear capable missiles. Much of the hardware dates back to the Soviet era, when India had
close ties with Moscow, while more recent defense purchases include billions of dollars of U.S. -made equipment.
Last year's chief guest was Japanese Prime Minister ShinzoAbe, who has taken a tough line with China over its territorial
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Chuck Hagel understood India's value, opened US military for Sikhs
Fi le photo:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who quit amid differences with President Barack Obama, understood the strategic
importance of India and opened up the US military a little bit more for the Sikhs. Hagel, 68, who has b een asked by
President Obama to remain in office till Senate confirms his replacement, is likely to talk to his new Indian Defence
Minister Manohar Parikar.