U.S. President Barack Obama heads to India Saturday to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on climate change and economic ties.
Obama becomes the first U.S. president to attend India’s Republic Day ceremony on January 26, marking the day when the South Asian country’s constitution went into effect in 1950.
The two leaders established a rapport when Modi visited Washington last year. The Indian leader invited the president and first lady as his guest for the ceremonies.
The president’s visit to India includes a bilateral summit and economic talks between U.S. and Indian business leaders.
The president had planned to visit the famed Taj Mahal on Tuesday, but canceled those plans to fly to Saudi Arabia, following the king’s death there. The White House said in a statement Saturday that the president would depart India following a speech on Tuesday. Vice President Biden was to lead a delegation to Riyadh but will remain in Washington
“It is not often that a President of the United States comes to India to be part of the Republic Day celebrations. So symbolism is there, there’s going to be a lot of photo opportunities,” said C. Raja Mohan, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, an India-based think tank. “But at the same time, on nuclear, on defense, on climate change, there’ll be significant effort to produce new understandings.”
India has deployed around 50,000 security personnel throughout the capital, New Delhi, and a no-fly zone set to be in place during a parade Monday.