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

LNG crisis
Updated 27 Jun, 2022

LNG crisis

Global LNG shortages have sent the fuel’s price spiralling to record highs.
Bloc politics
27 Jun, 2022

Bloc politics

USING the platform of the 14th BRICS Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made some interesting observations...
KCR dream
27 Jun, 2022

KCR dream

RAILWAYS Minister Saad Rafique has basically clarified what many a commuter in Karachi has known for long: true and...
Outlawing torture
Updated 26 Jun, 2022

Outlawing torture

Physical or psychological torture is now considered almost a given in police and intelligence investigations.
High-profile case
Updated 26 Jun, 2022

High-profile case

IN a ‘breaking news’ culture, it is not often that such a significant development in a high-profile case can be...
Daska redux?
26 Jun, 2022

Daska redux?

AS the clock ticks down on the by-elections scheduled for next month on recently vacated Punjab Assembly seats,...