New Delhi: India on Thursday said an invitation for President Donald Trump to visit India, extended last year during a visit by prime minister Narendra Modi to Washington, was pending since then and was not specifically extended in the context of India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January, 2019.

“There is an invitation pending from PM Modi’s visit in 2017...it is not specifically for 26th January," said a person familiar with the development.

The comment comes in the wake of a report in the Times of India last month which said that India had extended the invitation to Trump to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January next year.

In her response to a question when asked about reports that Modi had invited President Trump to be the chief guest at the next year’s Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, , White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “I know that the invitation has been extended, but I do not believe that a final decision has been made."

In 2015, then US president Barack Obama became the first American president to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. The visit and attendance at the event was seen as a turning point in bilateral ties given India’s decidedly pro-Soviet slant during the Cold War years. Ties have warmed considerably since the year 2000, with four US presidential visits to India since then.

Modi has met Trump at least twice in the past year – the first during a bilateral visit to Washington and then once on the margins of a summit in Manila.

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