Barack Obama curtails visit, skips Agra

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New Delhi/washington | Published: January 25, 2015 1:11:47 AM

President Barack Obama, who arrives in India on Sunday, will skip a trip to Agra and fly directly from New Delhi to Saudi Arabia instead...

President Barack Obama, who arrives in India on Sunday, will skip a trip to Agra and fly directly from New Delhi to Saudi Arabia instead. The US President will now leave on January 27 morning after an address at Siri Fort Auditorium. Obama has expressed regret on missing the iconic Taj Mahal.

“President Obama and the First Lady will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday, January 27, in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz…. Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule in coordination with the Indian government so that the President would be able to depart India following his speech on Tuesday to stop in Riyadh during the return trip to meet with King Salman and other Saudi officials and offer his condolences on behalf of the American people. The President regrets that he will be unable to visit Agra during this trip,” a White House statement, issued in New Delhi by the US Embassy, said.

Obama was scheduled to visit the city of the Taj Mahal with his wife Michelle on Tuesday, for which elaborate security arrangements had been made.

Besides being the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, Obama’s agenda includes talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meeting with business leaders, and an address on ‘India and America: The Future We Can Build Together’.

Meanwhile, unprecedented security arrangements, comprising Delhi Police and para-military forces, have been put in place in the national capital ahead of the visit. Central Delhi has turned into a virtual fortress with security agencies partly or completely shutting down nearly 71 buildings.

A joint team of the US Secret Services and sleuths of central security agencies are on the job.

Radars and anti-aircraft guns have been put in place to shoot down any aerial intrusion. All flights flying over Delhi at the time of the parade will be diverted. Earlier, planes flying above 32,000 feet did not fall in the category of no-fly zone, but now the height has been raised to 35,000 feet.

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