In a sudden move, the Indian government has invited U.S.A President Donald Trump to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2019.
The invitation has been sent and now a response is awaited from the U.S. government’s end. The latter institution has given indications that President Trump is looking at the invitation favorably. It was sent out in April this year, since then there have been multiple rounds of diplomatic talks.
In 2015, NDA government had hosted then U.S.A President Barack Obama as that year’s Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations. However, if President Trump decides to accept the invitation, this time media coverage and reception by the country of India, it is believed, will be twice as dramatic and closely-watched than Obama’s was. This move is likely to produce changes in the currently tense situation of Indo–US bilateral ties.
For celebrations in 2018, in an unpredictable move, invitation was sent to the 10 leaders of ASEAN countries–Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei–to attend as chief guests.
This invite to the Trump administration comes amid India’s differences with U.S. over trade tariffs, and India’s proposed deal with Russia over S-400 defence missile system.
India and U.S.A’s ties took a bitter turn when in June, after America put pressure on India to cut oil imports from Iran. While New Delhi did agree to take all necessary steps to cut imports, including asking the oil firms to start exploring alternative sources, when US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley visited India, she further warned India to rethink its ties with Iran. The US reportedly told India and other countries to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions.
The India–US ties also hit another bump when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled the crucial ‘2+2’ dialogue in June. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were earlier scheduled to go to U.S. to take part in the meeting with Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis on 6 July.
This invitation is largely being seen as an attempt to iron out the creases and smoothen ties with the hegemonic power. If President Trump accepts the invitation, this could likely bring about new developments in Indo–US ties.