Obama heads for India, White House calls it a ‘genuine honour’


As President Barack Obama heads to India, the White House has called the invite a “genuine honour”, adding that the President was interested in injecting a new energy and vitality into the US-India relationship.

“The President is very much looking forward to this visit. It is a genuine honour to be invited as the guest for Republic Day” and Obama “is looking forward to see the festivities associated with Republic Day firsthand,” his press secretary said on Friday.

“We’ve got many colorful descriptions about the parade and other festivities that go along with marking this important day,” Josh Earnest said. “The President is looking forward to seeing it firsthand.”

Obama, who will be the first US president to visit India twice while in office, was also looking forward to a series of serious meetings with political leaders in India, and certainly the one with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he told reporters Friday.

Obama, Earnest said, “certainly enjoyed the conversation” that he had with Prime Minster Narendra Modi when the latter visited Washington in September.

“I think he does see an opportunity to build a strong working relationship not just between our two countries, but between the two leaders who do share sort of a common sense of purpose and vitality,” he said.

“It reflects the President’s commitment to India, the Indian people, and the relationship between the US and India,” Earnest said.

Asked about Modi’s “Make in India” call, the spokesman said there is an important economic component to the policy agenda in India.

“There will be a number of US business leaders who will be traveling to India in conjunction with the President’s visit, and that is because there are tremendous economic opportunities for American businesses in India,” he said,

“And we are interested in strengthening those ties, both for the benefit of the Indian people.”

“But he’s the American President and he’s most interested in strengthening those ties to benefit the American people,” Earnest said.

“And certainly the opportunity — the business opportunity that exists in India serves as a good opportunity to do exactly that.”