Oct 29, 2018: President Donald Trump has declined India’s invitation to be the guest of honor at the country’s Republic Day parade, citing clash of dates with his State of the Union address.
Republic Day which commemorates India’s constitution coming into effect in 1950, is on January 26, 2019.
The Trump administration said the US President has declined because he has to deliver his state of the union address on the same day. However, former President Barrack Obama postponed the SOTU address due to a clash between the dates and attended India’s Republic Day parade in 2015.
India will have to find another leader to be the chief guest but it is unlikely anyone will accept after Trump’s refusal.
In 2016 the parade was attended by French President Francois Hollande and in 2014 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the celebrations.
The refusal comes at a time when relations between New Delhi and Washington are particularly strained.
The US had warned India against signing any S-400 missile defense system deal with Russia which was inked earlier this month when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India. The deal is worth around US$5 billion.
India also continues to import oil from Iran despite the Trump administration’s threat of sanctions — the State Department has been telling India and other countries around the world, that the clock was ticking for them to cut oil purchases from the Islamic Republic to zero.
“We cannot end oil imports from Iran at a time when alternatives are costly,” Indian officials told a U.S. delegation this month, according to NDTV.
Trump’s renewed sanction on Iran comes into effect November 5.
The global price of oil peaked just below $87 a barrel this month, a four-year high.
Besides India, China, and Turkey are resisting Washington’s call to end purchases outright, arguing there are not sufficient supplies worldwide to replace them.