An Indian website reports that President Barack Obama’s decision to drop a planned visit to the Taj Mahal might have been driven as much by security concerns as by the desire to head to Saudi Arabia instead to pay respects to the late King Abdullah.
Obama and his wife had planned to stop in Agra, India, to see the Taj Mahal Tuesday after meetings and events in New Delhi. Instead, they’ll leave straight from New Delhi and stop in Saudi Arabia, the White House said Saturday. The Obamas will replace Vice President Joe Biden, who was slated to lead the US delegation to Riyadh.
“President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel his visit to Agra came after Uttar Pradesh authorities insisted that he would not be allowed to use his armour-plated car to drive through the Taj Mahal’s eastern gate, government sources have told The Indian Express,” acccording to the express website.
“The Secret Service, which protects President Obama, said having him travel into the complex in a battery-powered golf-cart posed an unacceptable security risk.”
The site said the provincial government refused special permission for Obama’s car, called the Beast, as well as his motorcade, inside the gates of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
“Basically,” a senior Home Ministry official said, “they told us to get an order from the Supreme Court, which was of course impossible in the time we had left.
Some Indian news media made mistakes in its coverage of Obama’s last visit to the country, particularly the security aspects of the trip. It is true, though, that the U.S. president requires more security than any other head of state, including the use of armored vehicles.