Biden invited to next year’s Republic Day parade, says Garcetti
Joe Biden made his first visit to India after becoming president to attend the G20 Summit this month
US President Joe Biden has been invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the chief guest at next year’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, US ambassador Eric Garcetti said on Wednesday against the backdrop of burgeoning ties between the two sides.
While there has been speculation in diplomatic circles about India hosting a Quad Summit around the time of the Republic Day celebrations, Garcetti didn’t confirm whether a meeting of the grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the US would be held in January.
Speaking to reporters on the margins of an event at a think tank, Garcetti said Modi extended the invitation to Biden during their bilateral meeting on September 8 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. If Biden accepts the invitation, he will be the second US president to be chief guest at the event after Barack Obama, who was invited in 2015.
Biden made his first visit to India after becoming president to attend the G20 Summit this month. The US invited Modi for a state visit in June and his recent meeting with Biden was an opportunity for the two sides to assess the progress on new initiatives in areas ranging from defence and security to new and emerging technologies.
The invitation to a foreign leader to be chief guest at the Republic Day is a signal honour reserved for India’s closest allies and partners. There were no chief guests at the celebrations in 2021 and 2022 because of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and Egyptian Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the chief guest this year.
The invitee is chosen through a combination of foreign policy, economic and strategic priorities and the invitation to Biden reflects the rapid growth of the India-US strategic partnership, which ranges from close cooperation in defence and security to work on projects such as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) that was launched during the G20 Summit.
At their second bilateral meeting in three months, Modi and Biden hailed the progress in implementing “groundbreaking achievements” during the Indian premier’s state visit to the US and told their governments to continue transforming the strategic partnership “across all dimensions of our multifaceted global agenda, based on trust and mutual understanding”.
The two sides recently launched negotiations for a commercial agreement to manufacture the GE F-414 jet engines in India, and India has issued a letter of request to acquire 31 MQ-9B drones from the US.
Asked how the US could assist India in the face of China’s aggressive actions, Garcetti replied: “We’re here for Indian friends in all the many ways they ask for help...America isn’t telling India what it needs, we’re listening at times when there’s requests, we’re helping. We know that this is an existential threat.”
He added, “We know that every single day, India lives...with the thought that borders won’t be respected and sovereignty would be ignored.” The US assistance for India includes intelligence, building defence deterrent capability, co-production, cutting edge technologies, and inter-operability between the armed forces of the two sides, he said.
While there has been speculation about the Quad leaders being jointly invited for Republic Day, people familiar with the matter noted that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is unlikely to travel on January 26 as his country observes its national day on that date. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida too is unlikely to travel abroad as a Parliament session is scheduled to begin on January 23.