New Delhi: The White House on Monday said that US President Donald Trump had to turn down India’s invitation to be the chief guest at the at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi next year due to “scheduling constraints”.

Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had extended an invite for a bilateral visit to India last year when he was in Washington. A White House spokesperson told PTI that President Trump couldn't accept the invite because of scheduling constraints.

"President Trump was honoured by the invitation to be Chief Guest of India's Republic Day on January 26, 2019, but is unable to participate due to scheduling constraints," the spokesperson said.

"The President enjoys a strong personal rapport with Prime Minister Modi developed through two meetings and several phone calls and remains committed to deepening the U.S.-India strategic partnership. The President very much looks forward to meeting Prime Minister Modi again at the earliest opportunity."

In July, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had stated that President Trump had received an invitation to India but that no decision had been taken then. 

Sources said around the same time the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address to both Houses of the US Congress is being planned, which will be addressed by Trump.  

Every year India invites prominent heads of states to be the chief guest in Republic Day. In 2018, leaders of 10 ASEAN countries had attended the R-Day event while in 2016, the then French president Francois Hollande had been the chief guest at the event. Former US President Barack Obama, who was then in power, had attended the event in 2015. 
(with PTI inputs)