Obama in India joins Modi at Delhi Republic Day parade

Obama in India joins Modi at Delhi Republic Day parade

Narenda Modi and Barack Obama watched a “spectacular” military parade, as Sanjoy Majumder reports

US President Barack Obama has attended India’s Republic Day parade in Delhi, the first US head of state to do so.

Mr Obama was chief guest at the annual military parade. He arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit seen as a sign of warming ties between the two countries.

After talks on Sunday, both sides announced a breakthrough on a pact that will allow US companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology.

Indian PM Narendra Modi said it was a “new journey” of co-operation.

Mr Obama will meet the main opposition Congress party leaders later on Monday and will also speak at a business summit.

Trade vow

Republic Day marks the adoption of India’s constitution in 1950, three years after independence from Britain.

Uniformed soldiers in colourful headgear marched down Rajpath, or King’s Avenue, where Mr Obama watched the parade with Mr Modi inside a bullet-proof glass enclosure.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the ceremony showcased India’s military might with soldiers marching in formation and the latest weapons on display, including several made in America.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L-R), U.S. President Barack Obama, India's President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 26, 2015Mr Obama watched the parade with Mr Modi inside a bullet-proof glass enclosure
Indian military vehicles and missile launching systems are displayed during the nation's Republic Day parade on Rajpath in New Delhi on January 26, 2015.Tanks and missile launchers rolled down the Rajpath in central Delhi
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) motorcycle specialists perform during the Republic Day paradeParamilitary soldiers on motorbikes performed daredevil stunts
Indian military personnel salute while riding camels during the Republic Day Parade in Delhi on January 26, 2015Huge crowds and thousands of security personnel attended the parade on a cold, wet day

“Warm hugs” have set the tone for the visit, as the BBC’s Yogita Limaye reports

Helicopters showered petals on the crowds and brass bands and dancers filed past the guests on a foggy, rainy morning.

“The day is all about patriotism and I’m lucky to be a part of it,” Ajith Kumar, a student watching the parade, said. “The fact that we have a guest like Obama has made it all the more special.”

The US president received a warm welcome on Sunday when Mr Modi greeted him at the airport with a bear hug.

The two men spent several hours discussing defence and trade ties, and then announced the breakthrough on the civilian nuclear deal.

The pact was agreed in 2008 but has been held up for six years because of differences over the liability US firms would face in India in the event of a nuclear accident.

US President Barack Obama (2R) and First Lady Michelle Obama (C) on Rajpath during India's Republic Day parade in New DelhiThe US president came to the venue along with First Lady Michelle
An Indian spectator tries to protect himself from the rain as he attends the Republic Day Parade Rain failed to dampen spirits with thousands turning up to watch the parade
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd at the Republic Day parade in Delhi January 26, 2015Mr Modi’s colourful headgear attracted a lot of attention
Indian dancers perform during the nation's Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015
Indian dancers also performed at the parade

Now a large insurance pool will be set up, without the need for any further legislation.

The two sides have also pledged to increase their bilateral trade five-fold, from the current $100bn (£66.7bn) a year, and build co-operation on defence projects.

Mr Obama’s visit to India has been shortened so he can visit Saudi Arabia and pay his respects following the death of King Abdullah. It means he and his wife, Michelle, will not now visit the Taj Mahal.


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