President Barack Obama will pay a midwinter visit to India, as the guest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi invited him to attend the Republic Day celebration in January, making Obama the first U.S. president to attend the anniversary of the adoption of India's constitution.
Obama will meet with Modi and other Indian leaders during the trip, the White House said in a statement. Republic Day marks the enactment of India's constitution on Jan. 26, 1950. "At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi, the president will travel to India in January 2015 to participate in the Indian Republic Day celebration in New Delhi as the chief guest," the White House said. "The president will meet with the prime minister and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the U.S.-India strategic partnership."
The announcement comes as Modi and Obama are working to strengthen economic and political ties between their countries. Modi first met with Obama in September during a whirlwind tour of the U.S. "It is an extraordinary pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Modi to the White House for the first time," Obama said in a statement after their meeting. "I think everyone has been impressed with the energy and the determination with which the prime minister has looked to address not only India’s significant challenges, but more importantly, India’s enormous opportunities for success in the 21st century."
Modi won power in a landslide election in May. His triumphal visit to the U.S. marked a sharp turnaround from 2005, when he was denied a U.S. visa because of accusations that he incited bloody anti-Muslim riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, according to Bloomberg. During his visit, he also met with a dozen American CEOs over breakfast, including the heads of Goldman Sachs, IBM, General Electric, BlackRock and KKR.
"It is a partnership that is highly valued by this country and by this White House," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest at the time. "We will discuss ways to accelerate economic growth, bolster security cooperation, and collaborate in activities that bring long-term benefits to both countries and the world. We’ll focus on regional issues, including current developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where India and the United States can work together with partners toward a positive outcome.”