Obama braces for a compact trip to India

2010-10-28 10:09

New Delhi – US President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in India on November 6 with peace apostle Mahatma Gandhi on his agenda – along with business, politics and terrorism.

Obama, an admirer of the leader of India’s independence movement who advocated non-violent protest, is scheduled to visit a Gandhi museum in Mumbai and a memorial in Delhi, according to the White House.

“One thing I can tell you, he has inquired a lot about Mahatma Gandhi ahead of the trip,” the Indian Express newspaper quoted an unnamed US embassy official as saying. “He wants to know more about Mr Gandhi while he is here.”

Obama, as a senator, kept a framed picture of Gandhi in his office. “He is quite fascinated with how Mahatma Gandhi influenced the civil rights movement in the United States,” the embassy official said.

One of the first events on Obama’s agenda after he lands in Mumbai on a three-day visit, his longest stay in a foreign country as president, was a statement at the Taj Mahal hotel in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack in November 2008.

Obama, who will stay at the Taj, is scheduled to attend meetings with Indian and US business leaders, visit a school, and hold town hall-style meetings with university students and round-tables on agriculture, food security and democracy before he leaves for the Indian capital on November 7.

First Lady Michelle Obama, who will accompany the president, reportedly wished to see the Taj Mahal in Agra.

But given their packed schedule, the couple instead were due to visit the medieval Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, on which the architecture of the Taj is said to be based.

The final day of the US president’s visit would be devoted to bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other officials, followed by a speech in India’s Parliament.

Obama was scheduled to depart for Indonesia on November 9.

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