US President Barack Obama on Friday set the ball rolling for creating history by accepting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be the Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day on January 26, 2015.
For one, Obama will be the first US President to be India’s chief guest during Republic Day. In addition, Obama will be the first US President to visit India twice while in office. Obama also visited India in 2010 during his first term as US President.
Modi is believed to have invited Obama during his visit to Myanmar and Australia, when he met with the US President at the East Asia summit, and again at the G20 meeting of world leaders.
Modi himself broke the news about Obama’s impending visit through Twitter on Friday, writing, “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over…invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.”
In a matter of minutes, the White House confirmed Obama’s visit to India in a return tweet. The US National Security Council tweeted, “@ invite of @narendramodi, President Obama will travel to #India in Jan 2015 to participate in Indian Republic Day celebration as Chief Guest.”
The White House press secretary subsequently issued a brief statement: “At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, the President will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the Chief Guest. This visit will mark the first time a U.S. president will have the honor of attending Republic Day, which commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution. The President will meet with the Prime Minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the U.S.-India strategic partnership.”
Notably, the “Twitter diplomacy” played out on a day when Obama was bracing for a furious Republican response to his immigration reform proposals.
Before Obama, only five US presidents have visited India – Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959; Richard Nixon in 1969; Jimmy Carter in 1978; Bill Clinton in 2000; and George W. Bush in 2006.