President Obama in India: Reception in Mughal Gardens

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New Delhi – After meeting with Congress Party leaders at a closed-press event at his hotel, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at 3:53 p.m. headed out to attend a reception with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential palace).

Obama was wearing a gray suit and lavender tie, and the first lady wore a cream-colored patterned dress befitting a garden party as they arrived at the home of President Mukherjee at 4:06 p.m. where they attended a reception in the Mughal Gardens — the Indian equivalent of the South Lawn. The expansive gardens were lush, filled with fountains and flowers.

As the reception got started, trumpets played and the honor guard marched in. The Indian and US presidents were joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

A select group of officials and guests were seated on armchairs on the lawn, and additional guests stood behind a rope line.

The Obamas, Modi and Mukherjee spent several minutes greeting each of the guests on the lawn, occasionally stopping to chat as they shook hands.

At one point, a grinning Obama chatted happily with Modi.

Sprinkles threatened to dampen the mood, but the honored guests on the lawn sat under large canopies.

After greeting many of the guests including the three services chiefs and 95-year-old Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, with whom he spent a couple of minutes, Obama settled into his chair and struck up a conversation with the wife of the Indian vice president. During the Republic Day celebrations on the Rajpath, Michelle Obama was seen interacting with her. At different times, Vice President Hamid Ansari and his wife Salma were seen having an amicable conversation with both Michelle and the US president.

Other personalities spotted were BJP President Amit Shah, seated next to Vimla Sharma, wife of former President S D Sharma; Gursharan Kaur, wife of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had arrived at the venue earlier while her husband followed with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Also were present diplomats and other dignitaries adding to nearly 2000 people.

Veteran BJP leader L K Advani, who had come with his daughter Pratibha, was conspicuous in keeping to himself during the entire stretch of the function.

A few minutes later, servers carrying large trays of food arrived, offering a selection of samosas, other snacks including chicken malai tikka, cheese cucumber sandwiches, anar bhog, fruit slices and tea for the guests.

The Obamas and the two Indian leaders then walked over to face the press for a minute, smiling and standing shoulder to shoulder — the first lady, the Indian president, Obama and Modi — as photographers snapped pictures.

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