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Obama leaves for India with wife Michelle, skips Agra trip

In his message to Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of the 66th Republic Day, Obama said he and his wife Michelle were looking forward to visit India and enjoy the “generosity, hospitality, and beauty that marked our last visit” in 2010.

Meanwhile, the US President has regretted his Agra trip cancellation. Obama will fly directly from New Delhi to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah on Friday. “President Obama and the First Lady will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” a statement released by White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Saturday.

“Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule in coordination with the Indian government so that the President would be able to depart India following his speech on Tuesday to stop in Riyadh during the return trip to meet with King Salman and other Saudi officials and offer his condolences on behalf of the American people. The President regrets that he will be unable to visit Agra during this trip. The Vice-President will remain in Washington,” the White House statement said.

The US President has embarked on his highly anticipated three-day landmark trips to India during which both the countries will strive to make progress on climate change, defence and economic cooperation. Obama left by Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, from the Andrews Air Force Base.

The President is accompanied by a sizeable delegation that will include several top officials, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama. He is travelling to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Presidential aircraft will have a brief refuelling halt at Ramstein in Germany and will touch down in Delhi at 10 am on Sunday at Air Force Station, Palam. The President, who is making his second visit to India, will be joined there by multiple members of his Cabinet, influential business leaders and a host of US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives.

On his arrival, Obama will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at about 12 noon at the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thereafter, he will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and participate in a tree planting event there.
Obama will then join Modi for a restricted working lunch at the Hyderabad House and participate in a “walk and talk” with Modi there, the White House said. The two leaders will then have an expanded delegation level meeting, which is expected to last for about an hour.

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