Trump can’t come, has ‘sched­ul­ing con­straints’

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY RESMI SI­VARAM

Newdelhi:wash­ingtonon­mon­day tried to ex­plain US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­abil­ity to ac­cept Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s in­vite to In­dia’s Repub­lic Day, as­sert­ing that “sched­ul­ing con­straints” pre­vented him.

How­ever, the White House has gone on to high­light the “strong per­sonal rap­port” shared by the two lead­ers.

Trumpha­store­port­totheuscongress end of Jan­uary and would be un­able to travel to In­dia, diplo­matic sources point out. US Pres­i­dents present their an­nual re­port to Congress late in Jan­uary. The State of Union ad­dress, how­ever, can be shifted if sched­uled in ad­vance.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at­tended two Repub­lic Day events in In­dia, pre-pon­ing his State of Union ad­dress to Jan.20.

“Pres­i­dent Trump was hon­ored by Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s in­vi­ta­tion for him to be Chief Guest of In­dia’s Repub­lic Day on Jan. 26, 2019, but is un­able to par­tic­i­pate due to sched­ul­ing con­straints,” a White House state­ment says.

It is known that Washington is ir­ri­tated that In­dia signed a Rs390 bil­lion mis­sile deal with Rus­sia and keeps buy­ing oil from Iran.

How­ever, in a bid to stress that Trump’s re­jec­tion of the in­vite is not re­lated to that, the state­ment goes on to stress that, “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 Pres­i­dent very much looks for­ward to meeting Prime Min­is­ter Modi again at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.” The in­vite it­self had been a guarded se­cret be­cause its ac­cep­tance wasn’t guar­an­teed. That’s nor­mal in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

Modi and Trump met irst in June 2017 at the White House. An ex­tended one-on-one was a high­light, fol­lowed by a hug­ging that was claimed as relect­ing a per­sonal in­ti­macy. First lady Me­la­nia Trump had held a re­cep­tion for the Indian del­e­ga­tion later.

Again at the ASEAN sum­mit in Manila in Novem­ber 2017, they held a bi­lat­eral meeting. In July 2017, at a G-20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, the two lead­ers met for a quick ex­change, pic­tures of which were tweeted by Modi’s aides.

The Modi government’s choice of Rus­sian mis­siles, how­ever, is known to have an­noyed the US. De­spite the threat of US ac­tion, In­dia went on to buy the Rus­sian S-400 long-range mis­sile sys­tem, which Washington con­sid­ers is within the scope of the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries Through Sanc­tions Act.

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