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Donald Trump at Rajpath? Modi eyes a coup

India is eyeing a diplomatic coup by sending US President Donald Trump an invite to be the chief guest for next year’s Republic Day parade, according to a TOI report. The report claimed that the Trump administration was "favourably considering" the invite, though there has been no official response from Washington on the communication yet. The invite is also a test for India's relation with Trump. Almost every major country has struggled to cope with the mercurial and irascible leader and India has learnt the hard way that it is hardly an exception. Tussle over trade tariffs, America's reluctance to acknowledge India’s ties with Iran and it's adverse reaction to the deal for purchase of S-400 missile defence system from Russia have left many wondering if Delhi even figures in Trump’s priority list like it certainly did in Obama’s.The invite, the report said, was followed up with several rounds of diplomatic engagement over the issue. If Trump chooses to come, his visit will be even more dramatic than the one by his predecessor Barack Obama who was Modi’s first Republic Day guest in 2015.India is eyeing a waiver from sanctions the US is threatening to impose on those importing crude from Iran. That the US chose to postpone the 2+2 dialogue, where India was expected to outline ways to address some of these differences, because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided to visit North Korea on the scheduled date only magnified the erratic nature of the Trump administration for Indian authorities. The fact that Pompeo did not even get to meet Kim Jong-un during his Pyongyang visit has also not gone unnoticed. Delhi, however, believes that the differences with Trump can be worked upon, which explains the determination behind the invite. It also knows that a confirmation of US president visit will also help it stem, to an extent, the tide of recent foreign policy criticism, not least because of the reverses India seems to have suffered in the neighbourhood recently.That it will take place months before the general elections is an added incentive for the government. The invite to Trump is also in line with the Modi government’s attempts to ensure the presence of international heavyweights on R-Day. Obama in 2015 was followed next year by then French president Francois Hollande as chief guest. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attended the parade in the same capacity in 2017. And in 2018, one of the foreign policy highlights for the government has been the presence of all 10 Asean leaders at the R-Day event.

Source: ET

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