“We will have a complement of senior officials at the airport which is the standard norm for a state visit. There will be a Minister Accompanying who will also be at the airport. And for this particular visit the Minister Accompanying is the External Affairs Minister Mr Salman Khurshid,” Chief of Protocol Ruchira Kambo told media here yesterday, when asked whether the Prime Minister would also be going to the Palam airport to welcome the Emperor.

“As far as the Prime Minister’s presence at the airport is concerned, which point you have raised, matters are still under finalisation. These aspects are being finalised. But yes there might be a possibility of this. But I should also hasten to add in that vein that if this happens, this will not be the first time. There have been a couple of visits, the most notable in the recent past being that of President Obama where the Prime Minister has gone to the airport to receive a distinguished visitor. So, let us wait and see,” Kambo added.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin on his part said, “Just to add to what she said, all that we have said is indicative that we are placing the utmost importance on this visit, and the highest importance that India can extend.”

“So, please be certain that every aspect of protocol and importance will be given at every level to ensure that this will be a memorable visit,” he added.

In recent times, such a departure from protocol has been done only thrice before by Prime Minister Singh for US Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The MEA spokesperson further said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has fond memories of the visit by the royal couple in 1961 when he was a seven-year-old.

 “I did ask the Minister this question and he did indicate that his grandfather was the Governor of Bihar at that stage. And the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess did visit Nalanda. He said that he was I think seven years old at that stage. He has very fond memories of that. And he has specifically requested that we collect as many photos of their visit to Patna,” said Akbaruddin, when asked whether it is true that Khurshid has met or seen the Japanese Emperor when he came here in 1961.

“And we have been able to collect those photos and hand them over to the Minister who is very nostalgic and remembers this with great fondness, he added.

The couple, accompanied by a medium-size delegation of 50, including former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, will arrive here today on a six-day state visit to India at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee.


Latest News from India News Desk