Packed schedule for Obama, seven engagements Sunday


New Delhi (IANS):US President Barack Obama, who arrives here Sunday on a three-day state visit, has a packed schedule right from the moment the presidential plane, Air Force One, lands in New Delhi at 10 a.m.

Obama, who will be accompanied by his wife Michelle, and a high-level delegation, has seven engagements Sunday, including talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Air Force One would touch down at the Air Force Station, Palam, at 10 a.m.

The presidential entourage would then drive down to the ITC Maurya, where the US first couple would be staying.

The super luxury hotel has been made out of bounds for other guests till the duration of the visit and a stringent security blanket thrown around the hotel and its surrounding areas.

The presidential car, The Beast, has also arrived in the capital.

A Cadillac limousine, The Beast’s armour plating is said to be eight inches thick and its doors weigh as much as those on a Boeing 757 aircraft. It has five-inch thick bulletproof windows with at least five layers to foil any effort by subversives.

The Beast’s trunk is reported to contain everything from firefighting equipment and oxygen tanks to a cache of the president’s blood type.

Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal as minister-in-waiting for the visit would receive Obama at the airport as well as escort and assist him through the visit.

It is not yet known if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would go to the airport to receive the Obamas.

At noon, the US president would be accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be present.

At 12.30 p.m., Obama would go to the Raj Ghat to lay a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. He would also plant a sapling at the venue.

At 1 p.m., Obama will attend a luncheon meeting with Modi at Hyderabad House.

At 2.15 p.m., the two sides are to hold delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House and at 3.05 p.m., the two leaders would address the media at the Ballroom of the venue.

At 7.30 p.m., Obama would call on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and attend the banquet hosted by the president at 8 p.m.

The banquet would see some special cuisine dished up for the US president and formal speeches by the two presidents.

In between the Hyderabad House talks and his visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Obama is to head back to the hotel and meet the staff of the US mission here.

On Monday, Obama would proceed to Rajpath to attend the Republic Day parade as chief guest at 10 a.m. He is the first US president to be chief guest at the Republic Day pageantry during which India’s military might and cultural diversity are showcased in a two-hour open air event.

It is not known if Obama would drive to Rajpath in Mukherjee’s black limousine or in The Beast. The US Secret Service is believed to be unwilling to allow the US president to travel in any other vehicle other than The Beast.

At 3.49 p.m., Obama would attend the traditional “At Home” reception hosted by Mukherjee on the expansive lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The event will be attended by senior politicians, diplomats, envoys and intellectuals.

At 5.30 p.m. Obama and Modi are to address the India-US CEO Forum Meeting at the Shahjehan Hall of Hotel Taj Palace.

At 6.40 p.m., the two leaders are to attend the India-US Business Summit at the Durbar Hall of Taj Palace.

There have been reports that the Obamas are keen to eat at the Bukhara restaurant.

Obama had stayed at the Maurya during his previous trip in 2010 and had relished an Indian style dinner.

On Jan 27 (Tuesday), Obama would address an invited gathering at the Siri Fort auditorium at 10.30 a.m. on the subject “India and America: The future we can build together”.

He was to have flown to Agra after the event, but that leg of the visit has been cancelled.

At 1.50 p.m., the US president and his entourage would take off for Riyadh to condole the death of Saudi King Abdullah.