New Delhi: After the White House stated that President Donald Trump cannot come to India next year as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, a senior official here said on Thursday that New Delhi and Washington are in discussions to fix a mutually convenient time for Trump's visit to India.
"We believe that as far as high-level exchanges are concerned, it is an inseparable part of our strategic partnership," said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
"Both India and the US are discussing a mutually convenient time for President Trump's visit to India," Kumar said.
Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster said that Trump's inability to participate as the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations next year was a "purely scheduling issue".
Trump has declined India's invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade citing pressing engagements, including his State of The Union address, around the time India will celebrate its Republic Day on January 26.
Asked if Trump declining India's invitation had something to do with India signing a deal with Russia on S-400 missile defence systems in the face of Washington's sanctions on Moscow, Juster, speaking to the media on the sidelines of an event here, said: "No, that is a purely scheduling issue."
Earlier this week, a White House spokesperson, when asked about Trump's decision, had said: "President Trump was honoured by Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's invitation to him to be the chief guest of India's Republic Day on January 26, 2019, but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints."