Sources said the White House has not yet confirmed Biden’s participation and indicated that the trip is improbable as the US President’s schedule for the upcoming year already includes other international engagements.
NEW YORK: United States President Joe Biden has no plans to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January, as per a Bloomberg report citing sources. This comes despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to him for the January 26 event.
Sources said the White House has not yet confirmed Biden’s participation and indicated that the trip is improbable as the US President’s schedule for the upcoming year already includes other international engagements. This election year also typically sees increased domestic travel for the US president.
Biden’s no-show is likely to deal a setback towards Modi’s aspirations to demonstrate burgeoning relations between the US and India and bolster his image ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Also amid efforts to deepen ties between the two countries, complications have arisen due to allegations suggesting an Indian government agent’s involvement in the killing of a US citizen in New York. In an indictment unveiled in November, prosecutors in Manhattan federal court accused an Indian national of orchestrating the murder of a Sikh activist.
Spokespersons for the White House National Security Council stated that they have no travel plans to announce for the president.
However, sources told the publication that if Biden opts not to visit India in January, it won’t be due to the alleged murder plot. Biden has previously engaged with Modi extensively, meeting during the Group of 20 leaders summit (G20) in New Delhi in September and also hosted Modi at the White House in June.
Both the US and India have currently downplayed the significance of the case. The indictment surfaced two months after Canada also accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of a Sikh separatist.
Addressing reporters last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the seriousness of the issue. He expressed anticipation for the outcomes of an ongoing Indian investigation.
Quad Dialogue Rescheduled
Meanwhile, India has postponed a proposed summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to a later date in 2024. A senior Indian official told Bloomberg that New Delhi had to reschedule the meeting to accommodate Quad leaders from the US, Australia, and Japan.
The Quad, a coalition of democracies reinvigorated in recent years, aims to counterbalance China’s expanding influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Biden’s recent hosting of Modi during a state visit to the US spotlighted New Delhi’s growing significance to Washington, which perceives India as a counterforce to China’s escalating military and economic dominance. The White House has shown keen interest in cultivating India to fortify defense cooperation, supply chains, and alleviate regulatory barriers for US tech companies.