According to sources said Sunday, US President Donald Trump is unlikely to accept India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations,
Trump may not be able to honour the invitation as he will have pressing engagements, including his State of The Union (SOTU) address, around the time India will celebrate its Republic Day.
This comes at a time when Indo-US ties have witnessed some strain after India went ahead and sealed a deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding US threat of punitive action under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).
The sources said India has already shortlisted names of two-three heads of states for extending invitation to be chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
Earlier this year, the US announced sanctions against Russia under CAATSA for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016. Under CAATSA, the US can punish entities and governments engaged in transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.
India and the US were in touch with each other over New Delhi’s invite to Trump to visit the country.
The sources indicated that India was not exclusively looking at Trump’s presence at the Republic Day celebrations and that various other options were also being explored.