Odisha News Insight

Barack Obama cancels Agra Visit, will go to Riyadh

Barack ObamaThe much anticipated visit of US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to Agra has been cancelled, Uttar Pradesh government officials said Saturday. A government spokesman told that the presidential visit “for all practical purposes was over”.

However, no official word with regard to this has been passed on to authorities in the state capital. Anjana Om Kashyap (@anjanaomkashyap)of Aaj Tak tweeted “Obama cancels Taj visit cz Cars not allowed in 500 mtrs of Taj(SC Orders) or is he cutting short hs visit to go to Saudi Arabia?.”

The major concern could be the US team was the inability of Obama’s car to travel right up to the entrance gate of Taj Mahal, given that a Supreme Court order has prohibited any vehicle from traveling within 500m from the gate.

Obama is coming to India on a three-day state visit Jan 25. He will become the first US president to be the chief guest at Republic Day parade Jan 26. The Agra visit was slated on the last day of his sojourn.

The official said that the advance teams of the US Secret Service and other officials have returned. He did not elaborate.

Sources, however, told that the union government had earlier told the state officials that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav or anyone else was not required to receive the Obama couple in the Taj city as it was not an official programme.

Yadav and his team had in fact; an aide conceded, prepared for the high-profile visit and were okay with even a “brief” engagement between the US president and the UP chief minister.

This was not to be as neither the BJP-led government was keen on this nor the security agencies who were not comfortable with the US president flying to Agra.

“The US first lady and the president both were keen to visit Taj…specially since they were unable to do so in 2010, but the plan has now been cancelled,” an official privy to the visit confirmed.

Due to the seasonal fog, the Secret Service was not keen to take the two-hour long Yamuna Expressway route from New Delhi to Agra and the “general security brief about UP was a thumbs down”, an official added.

Meanwhile, the White House has issued an official statement, saying “US President Barack Obama regrets Agra cancellation, will head to Riyadh in place of US Vice President Joe Biden who was earlier going”. President Obama will pay tribute to late Saudi King Abdullah, who died yesterday at the age of 90.

Obama’s Visit to India – Itinerary

Day 1: January 25, 2015
» Arrival in the morning
» Rashtrapathi Bhavan Ceremonial
» Homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat
» Bilateral discussions with PM Narendra Modi,    followed by a luncheon
» Meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee
» Banquet hosted by the President.

Day 2: January 26, 2015
» Republic Day function
» Rashtrapathi Bhavan Ceremonial
» ‘At home’ with Pranab Mukherjee
» Round table with CEOs.

Day 3: January 27, 2015
» To address a select gathering
» Departure from Delhi. Will go to Riyadh.

(With inputs form IANS)

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