Obama to cut short India visit, fly to Saudi Arabia: White House

NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama will cut short his visit to India on Tuesday to fly to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah, the White House confirmed on Saturday.

Obama was due to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday for a three-day trip, and will attend the Republic Day parade at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

King Abdullah died on Friday after a short illness and has been succeeded by his elderly brother Salman, raising concerns about political stability in Saudi Arabia, a longstanding US ally and the world’s leading oil exporter.

The White House said on Friday that Obama would speak with Salman in the next few days, but has not said that he would meet the new king.

Obama’s early departure from India would cause him to skip a planned excursion to the Taj Mahal, a 17th century mausoleum that is one of the world’s architectural wonders, but not affect the substance of his second visit to India.

He is due to hold summit talks on Sunday, attend Monday’s military parade and give a speech on Tuesday morning before his early departure.

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