India prepares to welcome US President Barack Obama

#India prepares intensely ahead of US #President, Obama’s second visit to the country. A multi-agency control room will monitor the surveillance operations in every area of the National capital, which has been put on highest alert ever.

Obama has been invited to grace the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest which will be a first for an American president. He will be accompanied by his wife Michelle Obama and a team of senior officials.

This will be Obama’s second visit – his first one being in November 2010.
A seven-layer security ring will be thrown around the VVIP enclosure on Rajpath for the Republic Day parade.

“President Obama is an honoured guest in India. We will do everything that ensures his convenience,” the spokesman said.

Replying to a separate question, the spokesman said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj intends to visit China in the first week of next month. This will form part of the planned unprecedented ground-to-air security drill that will turn the national capital into an impregnable fortress during Obama’s visit.

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Nearly 1.25 lakh people are expected to attend the parade this year which is 25,000 more than usual.

Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said India will do everything that is possible to ensure the US president’s stay here is memorable.

He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel may visit India later this year to participate in the biennial meeting of the heads of government of both India and Germany.

Asked about report of notice by the Enforcement Directorate to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for purchase of a property, the spokesman called it a minor issue. “… It is a normal routine thing,” he said.

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To accommodate demands made by the United States of America, the Indian government is likely to break the Republic Day tradition this year. Chief Guest of the parade US President Barack Obama is likely to travel in his own car instead of travelling in President Pranab Mukherjee’s car from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Rajpath.

Instead, both Presidents are expected to travel in US President Obama’s car. The car, which is called ‘The Beast’, will have flags of both countries on it.

Sharanya Bharathwaj

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