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Indian Embassy cuts ties with couple who gatecrashed Obama dinner

world Updated: Dec 03, 2009 13:25 IST
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As the controversy over a celebrity couple gatecrashing President Barack Obama's State dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh snowballed, the Indian Embassy in Washington ended its association with them.

The Indian Embassy will not participate in the June 2010 America's Polo Cup, a charity event organised by the gatecrashing couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi. "The Indian Embassy has decided to terminate its association with the 2010 America's Polo Cup," an embassy spokesman said on Wednesday.

The couple had celebrated the announcement at the embassy on Sep 9. The event's website boasts Landrover, Ritz Carlton and St Regis hotels as sponsors for the 2010 event. But the alleged sponsors told Fox News that's wrong and they are all demanding their logos be removed from the website.

The couple was expected to face tough questions before the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday, but they declined that invitation late Wednesday. Their publicist released a statement saying the Salahis had already provided information to lawmakers.

The committee chairman has threatened to subpoena the couple. If they are indeed summoned it will be the first time in seven years that a witness has been subpoenaed to appear.

The Secret Service has acknowledged that the Salahis got into the Nov 24 dinner because its security procedures at a checkpoint were not followed.

The couple insisted in a TV interview that they were invited to the dinner. But e-mails between the Salahis and a friend who works at the Pentagon show they had tried to obtain an invitation but never were cleared to attend the exclusive party.

In a statement released on Wednesday night through their spokeswoman, "the Salahis said that they felt they had provided all relevant information to the committee and there is nothing further that they can do to assist Congress in its inquiry regarding White House protocol and certain security procedures. They therefore respectfully decline to testify."

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan will testify, but the White House has rejected an invitation extended to Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, who was in charge of the guest list, potentially setting up a battle over whether to issue a subpoena to her.