Obama delegates to take over Mumbai attacks hotel

Obama delegates to take over Mumbai attacks hotel

Mumbai: US officials and delegates accompanying President Barack Obama on his visit to India next month are expected to take over most of the hotel that was the focus of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

“The whole hotel will probably be sold out," a person familiar with the arrangements told AFP on Tuesday, referring to the Taj Mahal Palace in the south of India’s financial capital.

Obama is due in India after the November 2 mid-term congressional polls as part of a 10-day tour of Asia.

A hotel official refused to confirm whether the US leader and his wife, Michelle, would be among the guests.

“He would be the first in the suites renovated after the attacks," the official said. “No one has stayed in them since the wing was re-opened."

The oldest part of the seafront hotel underwent a Rs1.75 billions ($37millions) refit after it was badly damaged by fire, smoke, bullets and explosions during the 60-hour siege that began on 26 November 2008.

A total of 31 people, including 12 members of staff, were killed when heavily armed Islamist gunmen stormed the hotel and then fought off Indian commandos. Across the city, 166 people died.

Obama is expected to meet captains of industry in Mumbai and address a meeting on business and entrepreneurship, according to the US-India Business Council, which posted details of the event on its website.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton last year stayed at the Taj but in the newer tower wing, which escaped the worst of the attack and reopened just under a month after the siege ended.

The hotel has previously played host to a string of world leaders, diplomats and celebrities, including Bill Clinton, who visited the city in 2000.