For the first time in several years, the US Secretary of State will not be part of the Presidential delegation when Barack Obama visits India in November.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has played a key role in accelerating the Indo-US relationship, will not accompany Obama during his November visit due to "scheduling conflict".
Clinton would be in Australia along with Defence Secretary Robert Gates for the 25th anniversary of the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN).
This would be a distinct departure from the past, at least since the advent of the new era of Indo-US relationship since the Clinton Administration, that the Secretary of State would not be accompanying the visiting American President.
When the Air Force One touched the New Delhi airport on the evening of March 19, 2000, Bill Clinton was not only accompanied by the First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea but also by his Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Similarly on March 1, 2006 when George W Bush arrived in New Delhi he was accompanied by the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The schedule of Obama's visit has not been announced yet, but it is expected that when he lands in Mumbai on the wee hours of November 6 he will be accompanied by the First Lady Michelle Obama.
This would also be the first overseas trip of his new National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
In the absence of Clinton, a top State Department official is expected to accompany the US President.
Officials acknowledged that it would be a departure from the past tradition the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be travelling with Obama as has been in the past.
At the same time they noted that it is mostly because of the "scheduling conflict and the host of international activities that has been going on this year."
In fact, it is Clinton, who has played a key role in accelerating the Indo-US relationship during the Obama Administration.
It is she who described Indo-US relationship under the Obama Administration as 3.0 phase of the ties between the two largest democratic countries of the world.