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US President Obama lands in India

NEW DELHI: United States (US) President Barack Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning for his three-day visit to India.

Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi received him at Palam airport.

Obama, the first US President to be in India twice while in office, is visiting on the invitation of Modi, who was until last year denied a visa to visit the US. Obama will also be the first US president present at India’s Republic Day parade as a chief guest.

Indian capital New Delhi has turned into a virtual fortress for the high-profile visit, with heightened security measures including an extended no-fly zone, to protect the world’s most powerful leader. While on-the-ground security has been beefed up with extra police patrols and checks at Delhi Metro stations, snipers have been deployed at more than 70 high-rise buildings around central Delhi.

Soon after arriving in Delhi, Obama will receive a traditional reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan and also pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi at Raj Ghat.

The Indian premier Modi and the US President will discuss a range of issues including defense and counter-terrorism at Hyderabad House within hours of Obama’s arrival, but officials said efforts to combat climate change will figure prominently in the talks.

Indians officials are optimistic that the relations between the world’s two largest democracies will move forward on many issues including the seven-year-old civil nuclear deal.

Keeping in line with his efforts towards closer economic and defence ties with India, Obama’s delegation has Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, and a host of other lawmakers, cabinet members, and business leaders.

On the second day, after attending the Republic Day Parade, Obama will meet the CEOs of some of the top Indian companies with  Modi. Some agreements between India and American companies are expected to be announced after the meeting in presence of two leaders.

The US delegation, which includes US trade representative Michael Froman, will bring up trade, specifically what Washington sees as impediments posed by Indian rules and practices. India too will bring up its priorities.

On Tuesday, Obama will join PM Modi on a special edition of the latter’s radio programme where listeners have been asked to pre-submit questions by Sunday to the leaders on the programme “Mann Ki Baat”.

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