PM sets aside protocol, receives Obama at Delhi airport

PM sets aside protocol, receives Obama at Delhi airport

New Delhi: US President Barack Obama on Sunday arrived in New Delhi on the second leg of his three-day visit to India and was personally received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who set aside protocol to welcome the guest.

The Air Force One carrying Obama, his wife Michelle and the official delegation touched down at the Delhi Airport at 3.19 PM and the President and the First Lady waved their hands while getting down from the aircraft.

Soon after alighting from the aircraft, Obama hugged Singh after shaking hands with him and greeted his wife Gursharan Kaur with a peck on her cheek. Michelle did the same to Singh and Kaur.

The couples were seen chatting for a few minutes before the visiting dignitaries introduced to officials in the reception line including Minister-in-Waiting Salman Khursheed, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar.

In a special gesture, Singh accompanied by Kaur received Obama and Michelle, signifying the importance India attaches to the US President’s maiden visit during which specific announcements on issues like counter-terrorism, regional security and clean energy to be announced after talks between the two leaders tomorrow.

Manmohan Singh had received Obama’s predecessor George W Bush at the airport when he visited India in 2006. The Prime Minister had also gone to the airport to personally receive Saudi Arabia King Abdullah .

Obama, who arrived in Mumbai yesterday afternoon, paid tributes to the victims of the 2008 Mumbai carnage and said his stay at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the targets of the Mumbai terror strikes, was intended to send a strong message.

Before embarking for Delhi, Obama and Michelle celebrated Diwali with kids in a school in Mumbai and then interacted with students at the St. Xavier’s College in a typical US townhall style.