January 24, 2015 / 8:29 AM / in 3 years

Obama to cut short India visit, fly to Saudi Arabia: sources

An employee ties threads on a kite, with portraits of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama, ahead of Obama's visit, in Mumbai January 23, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will cut short his visit to India on Tuesday to fly to Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah, sources in the Indian capital familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The White House could not immediately be reached for comment. Obama was due to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday for a three-day trip, and will attend the Republic Day parade at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

King Abdullah died on Friday after a short illness and has been succeeded by his elderly brother Salman, raising concerns about political stability in Saudi Arabia, a longstanding U.S. ally and the world’s leading oil exporter.

The White House said on Friday that Obama would speak with Salman in the next few days, but has not said that he would meet the new king.

Obama’s early departure from India would cause him to skip a planned excursion to the Taj Mahal, a 17th century mausoleum that is one of the world’s architectural wonders, but not affect the substance of his second visit to India.

He is due to hold summit talks on Sunday, attend Monday’s military parade and give a speech on Tuesday morning before his early departure, said the sources who requested anonymity pending a statement from the White House.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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