In a departure from protocol, Narendra Modi today received US President Barack Obama at the airport here, becoming the second Indian Prime Minister after Manmohan Singh to extend this special gesture to Obama.
During his last visit to India in November, 2010, Obama and his wife Michelle were received at the airport by Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
The sight of both Obama and Modi hugging each other warmly, was reminiscent of a similar bonhomie enjoyed by the US President with Singh. He had hugged the then Prime Minister and greeted Kaur with a peck on her cheeck. Michelle had repeated the gesture to Singh and Kaur.
The Indian Prime Minister receiving the US head of state at airport is a reflection of the importance India attaches to its strategic ties with the global super power.
Singh had also received Obama’s predecessor George W Bush at the airport when he had visited India in 2006, just a year after the two leaders inked the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal.
Obama will be the first US President to grace the Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest tomorrow, and the first American President to visit India twice.
He will hold extensive talks with Modi on a number of strategic issues including ways to break the impasse over implementation of the civil nuclear deal and enhancing defence and economic ties.
Both countries are working hard to have “excellent” outcomes from the visit of Obama.