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Rain pushes PM's White House reception indoors

By Aziz Haniffa
Last updated on: November 24, 2009 21:05 IST
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Overnight rain and drizzle forced officials to move the White House welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur from the sprawling South Lawn to inside the East Room.

Compared to the South Lawn that can accommodate over 400 people, the East Room has a much smaller capacity which would obviously result in a very restricted and truncated ceremony for the visiting leader in terms of who all can get inside.

Dr Singh and Gursharan Kaur will arrive at the East Room at 9.15 am to be welcomed by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and accorded a ceremony replete with full honours.

The change in venue has  caused heartburn among many of the Indian American leaders and activists who had come from all parts of the country to witness the historic ceremony and who had been given tickets by the Indian embassy, but would now have stay out of East Room.

More than a dozen Indian American senior officials of the Obama Administration working in the White House will also be present among other US officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, and other government agencies.

After the pomp and splendour, which will include the prime minister reviewing the guard of honour, Dr Singh and President Obama will make opening remarks at the dais flanked by senior cabinet officials of both countries, after which both leaders will move inside for a private conversation.

After an expected hour-long conversation, both President Obama and Dr Singh will hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House, after which the Dr Singh and his delegation will leave for the State Department for a luncheon co-hosted by Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary Clinton. 

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC