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Barack Obama will be India’s Republic Day chief guest

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day 2015, an invitation which is accepted by the American leader. “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over. Invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest,” Modi tweeted.

Soon after PM’s tweet, the White House confirmed that Obama will travel to India in January for the Republic Day celebration. This will be first time any US President would be the chief guest on the Republic Day.

Obama will meet with Modi and Indian officials to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership, the White House added.

American Diplomats said Obama would be first U.S. president to visit India twice while in office. He also went in 2010.

India’s relations with Washington have flourished in the past decade. The two countries are developing a strategic partnership prompted by shared concerns about China's increasingly assertive behaviour in the Asia Pacific region, although they have also had tussles over trade and other issues.

Modi met Obama on a visit to the United States in September and they have spoken on the telephone since. Their relationship is thought to have helped resolve a major trade spat in the World Trade Organization.

Modi was denied entry into the United States from 2005 until he was elected the India Prime Minister in May, after allegations he did too little to stop religious riots that killed at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in his home state of Gujarat.

Modi denies any wrongdoing and the Supreme Court investigation did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute him. India traditionally invites a head of state to participate as chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, which culminates in a military parade including its nuclear capable missiles.

Much of the hardware dates back to the Soviet era, when India had close ties with Moscow and relations with the United States were marked by mistrust. More recent defence purchases include billions of dollars of US-made equipment.