Obama cancels Taj Mahal visit to go to Riyadh: White House

Published January 24, 2015
US President Barrack Obama - AFP/File
US President Barrack Obama - AFP/File

NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama will cancel a planned trip to the Taj Mahal, cutting short his visit to India to travel to Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah's death, the White House said Saturday.

“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,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest in a statement.

Obama was scheduled to go to India's famed monument to love with First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday, at the end of a three-day visit to the country.

Hundreds of cleaners had been hired to spruce up the white marbled mausoleum in preparation for their arrival. Earlier the Hindustan Times website had cited unnamed Indian officials as saying Obama was cutting his India visit short to fly to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah.

The Hindu website had carried a similar report, quoting a government source as saying: "It's possible that he might leave India earlier".

Obama will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and become the first serving US president to be guest of honour at the Republic Day parade during his second visit to India since taking office. Analysts say the invitation to attend Monday's Republic Day celebrations emphasises a new closeness between the world's two largest democracies.

In an interview published Friday, Obama said “the stars are aligned” to enable the United States and India to forge a global partnership.

The cancellation of the Taj Mahal visit would deprive the country's top tourist attraction of publicity at a time when the government is trying to boost visitor numbers.

Twitter users rushed to thank the president for orchestrating a clean-up of the mausoleum in the town of Agra, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved empress who died during childbirth in 1631.

Take a look at: India clears cows, dogs, dust for Obama's Taj Mahal trip

“It was just Obama's clever plan to get Agra cleaned up. Thank you Obama, “posted one under the name Anamika.

Opinion

Editorial

Updated 20 May, 2022

TTP peace talks

ANOTHER attempt to sue for peace with the outlawed TTP is being made, again facilitated by the Afghan Taliban that...
20 May, 2022

Beyond the law

THE senior judiciary should take care not to overreach in its zeal to ‘fix’ issues it ideally need not worry...
20 May, 2022

Political musical chairs

YET another political crisis is brewing in Balochistan, where old rivals Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Sardar Yar...
Updated 19 May, 2022

To be or not to be

The same decision taken weeks or months from now will have far more devastating consequences.
19 May, 2022

Impact on Punjab

THE Supreme Court judgement interpreting the issue of disqualification of parliamentarians under Article 63A of the...
19 May, 2022

Forest fires

THOUGH spot and forest fires have become a perennial phenomenon especially in peak summer, the recent blazes —...