In an unprecedented development, US President Donald Trump has turned down India's invitation to be the chief guest during the Republic Day Parade next year. According to reports, US authorities conveyed the message in the form of a letter to National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.
It's also reported that the primary reason for turning down the invite is the Trump's domestic engagement, notably his State of The Union (SOTU) Address to the joint session of the US Congress which traditionally happens around the same time as that of India's Republic Day (January 26). But in 2015, his predecessor Barack Obama attended India's Republic Day function as the chief guest.
It's worth noting that the Indo-US relations have been under severe pressure over India's defence purchases from Russia and also its oil imports from Iran. The US had, in fact, warned India not to go ahead with the signing of S-400 missile system deal with Russia. India nonetheless signed the deal for five systems when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India earlier this month.
Then, there are also threats of sanctions if India continues to procure oil from Iran. Earlier this week, industry sources revealed that India will buy 9 million barrels of Iranian oil in November, indicating the world's third-biggest oil importer will continue purchasing crude oils from Iran despite US sanctions coming into force on November 4.
India had officially sent the Republic Day invite to the US President in April. The US authorities confirmed receiving the invite but said the final decision would be taken after the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in September.
The first 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi, during which they discussed key issues, including cross-border terrorism, India's NSG bid and the contentious H1B visa issue. The countries also signed a defence pact.