Gibbs threatens to pull Obama out of meeting with Indian PM Singh

November 8th, 2010 - 3:33 pm ICT by BNO News  

Barack Obama NEW DELHI (BNO NEWS) — White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday threatened to pull U.S. President Barack Obama from a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The bilateral meeting between Singh and Obama at Hyderabad House in New Delhi began just after 11 a.m. local time. While the first part of the meeting was closed to the press, reporters were allowed in during the second part.

Indian and U.S. officials had initially agreed that eight White House pool reporters would be allowed to attend the meeting, but Indian officials decided at the last minute to cut that number to five.

“Katie Lillie (the White House Deputy Director of Advance for Press) and other U.S. officials lobbied hard for the eight, but no luck until Gibbs announced loudly and persistantly on [the] steps of Hyderabad House that he would pull [Obama out] of [the bilateral meeting] with PM Singh unless ‘the White House 8,’ as we’ve come to be known, were all allowed in,” said Scott Wilson of The Washington Post, who is part of the White House pool.

Wilson said the argument even became worse, with Gibbs putting his foot between a door. “At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot,” he said. “More angry words ensued, and after Gibbs convinced them, through high volume and repetition, that he was serious about pulling [Obama], we all made it inside, to hold with [the] larger Indian press contingent, for [the] start of [the] extended [bilateral meeting].”

There were other minor incidents between American press and Indian officials on Saturday and Sunday, including an argument on Sunday when Air Force One landed in New Delhi. That incident prevented American reporters from witnessing how Singh greeted Obama at the airport.

Obama is currently on a four-day visit to India from Saturday to Tuesday.

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