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Agra visit off, Obama heads to Riyadh Tuesday

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Agra visit off, Obama heads to Riyadh Tuesday
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New Delhi: The much anticipated visit of US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to Agra has been cancelled, Uttar Pradesh government officials said on Saturday.

A government spokesman said that the presidential visit "for all practical purposes was over". The US president will be leaving for Saudi Arabia from New Delhi on January 27.

While Obama has retained the programme of his address to a select gathering in Delhi on January 27, a visit to Agra to see the iconic Taj Mahal has been cancelled as the US president will leave from New Delhi for Saudi Arabia whose king Abdullah died on Thursday night.

Obama is coming to India on a three-day state visit on January 25. He will become the first US president to be the chief guest at Republic Day parade on January 26. The Agra visit was slated on the last day of his sojourn.
The official said that the advance teams of the US Secret Service and other officials have returned. He did not elaborate.

Sources, however, told IANS that the Union government had earlier told the state officials that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav or anyone else was not required to receive the Obamas in Agra as it was not an official programme.

Yadav and his team had in fact, an aide conceded, prepared for the high-profile visit and were okay with even a "brief" engagement between the US president and the UP chief minister.

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