India invites Trump to be chief guest at 2019 R Day celebrations
New Delhi: India has invited US President Donald Trump to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations next year, government sources said today.
The US side is yet to respond to the invitation but initial indication has been positive, it is learnt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited President Trump for a bilateral visit to India during their talks in Washington in June 2017.
A joint statement issued after the talks had said, "President Trump gladly accepted Prime Minister Modi's invitation to visit India."
However, sources said a fresh invite to the US President has gone recently to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2019.
If Trump accepts the invitation, it is expected to give a major boost to ties between the two strategic partners in key areas of defence, security and trade.
The invitation to the American President to attend the Republic Day event comes when the ties between the two countries are witnessing some strain.
At present, India has been pressing the Trump administration for a waiver from US sanctions on New Delhi's military procurement from Russia.
Earlier this year, the US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.
There has been mounting concerns in India over the US sanctions against Russian defence majors including Rosoboronexport as billions of dollars of military purchases may be impacted because of the punitive measure.
India is also likely to seek a waiver from US sanctions on import of oil from Iran.
The Trump administration has been pushing for deeper strategic cooperation with India, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region where China was expanding its influence.
Ever year, India invites world leaders to attend its Republic Day celebrations.
In 2015, the then President Barack Obama had attended it as the chief guest which was his second visit to India as American President.
This year, leaders from 10 ASEAN countries had attended the Republic Day celebrations.
In 2016, French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest of the parade while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the celebrations in 2014.
The heads of state and government who have attended the Republic Day celebrations include Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John Major, Mohammed Khatami and Jacques Chirac.