US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will not be able to see the Taj Mahal during their visit to India, as they will have to leave New Delhi earlier than scheduled on Tuesday.
Obama will cut short his visit to New Delhi in order to make a stopover in Riyadh to offer his condolences to the royal family of Saudi Arabia over the demise of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The US president and his wife were to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on the concluding day of their visit to India. They had planned to return to New Delhi after the brief tour to Agra and fly back to Washington.
Washington conveyed to New Delhi about the change in the US president’s itinerary early on Saturday.
“President Obama and the First Lady will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday, January 27, in order to pay respects to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the family of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,” Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement was issued shortly before the Air Force One, with the president and his entourage on-board, departed from Andrews Air Force Base in Washington.
Washington had earlier announced that Vice-President Joe Biden would visit Riyadh to pay homage to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on behalf of the people and the government of the US.
Earnest said: “Accordingly, we adjusted the schedule in coordination with the Indian government, so that the president would be able to depart India following his speech on Tuesday to stop in Riyadh during the return trip to meet with King Salman and other Saudi Arabian officials and offer his condolences on behalf of the American people.”
The Saudi Arabian ruler has been succeeded by crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who has already taken over as the new king.
Earnest said Obama regretted that he would be unable to visit Agra during his tour to India. Obama and Michelle had visited Humayun Tomb during their visit to New Delhi in November 2010.