Obama arrives in India, goes to Taj Hotel (Second Lead)

November 6th, 2010 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Mumbai, Nov 6 (IANS) US President Barack Obama arrived here Saturday at the start of a four-day India visit, focussed largely on the American hunt for markets and jobs, and his first halt was at the Taj hotel which was ravaged by Pakistani terrorists two years ago.

With an hour of landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Obama took off in a US helicopter and then his Cadillac to reach the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel at the edge of the Arabian Sea to pay homage to those who died in the terror attack.

After lunch at the Presidential Suite of the hotel, where he and his wife Michelle will spend Saturday night, he will go to Mani Bhavan, now a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, a childhood hero of the US president.

The US Air Force One carrying the Obamas landed on runway 14 at 12.48 p.m. after flying some 15 hours from Washington.

Obama, dressed in a black business suit, and Michelle walked out of the aircraft with their hands locked. Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and central Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, the minister-in-waiting for the US president, received them with warm handshakes.

The chief minister handed the president a gift packet and a bouquet to the US First Lady, who wore a grey dress with a three-string pearl necklace around her neck.

This is Obama’s first visit to India — and the first halt in a four-nation Asian tour that will take him to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

It will be Obama’s longest visit to any country since he assumed the presidency two years ago. On Sunday, Obama will reach New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders before leaving for Indonesia Tuesday.

Apart from Michelle, Obama is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Security Adviser Tom Donillon and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Prior to his departure from the US, Obama said in a signed article in the New York Times that the US wanted “to be known not just for what we consume, but for what we produce. And the more we export abroad, the more jobs we create in America. In fact, every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs at home”.

Obama said his priority was to double US exports in the next five years.

The president will also visit St Xavier’s college, where he will interact with select students, and address Indian business leaders.

In New Delhi, the US president will address Indian MPs.

Obama is pushing New Delhi to lift a cap on foreign investment in the defence sector while India wants more visas so high-tech workers can move to the US.

More than 200 US business leaders are also making the trip to India.

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