President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama landed in India Sunday morning.
Air Force One landed just before 10 a.m. local time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Obamas on the tarmac. Obama and Modi shook hands and hugged.
Obama, accompanied by the first lady, will be official guest Monday at Republic Day, a national holiday marking the adoption of the constitution in 1950 that is celebrated with a parade through the streets of New Delhi complete with military tanks and kitschy floats. No U.S. president has even served as the official guest.
Behind closed doors, Obama and Modi are expected to talk a new defense agreement, climate change, trade, the Islamic State terrorist group, Afghanistan, even Mars exploration.
Obama will be joined by a small delegation from Congress including Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., co-chairman of the Senate’s Indian caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., the only Indian American in Congress, and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. A large group of American business leaders also is accompanying Obama.
Obama will cut short his stay in India Tuesday so he can stop in Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the late King Abdullah.
The White House had said that Vice President Joe Biden would head the U.S. delegation to Saudi Arabia, but aides said Saturday they changed the plan when they realized Obama could go himself by dropping a planned visit to the Taj Mahal and leaving India early.