By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 5 (IANS) US officials have dismissed media reports that President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to India is going to cost $200 million a day as "wildy"inflated" and "simply not true."
"The costs are comparable to when President (Bill) Clinton or President (George) Bush travelled abroad," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday. "This trip doesn't cost $200 million a day," he said.
He also dismissed the report that says Obama is taking 34 warships with him to India for protection as "simply not true."
"That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done," Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell said.
National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said the reports "seem to be wildly inflated in terms of the cost. I'm not going to get into the cost issues, but certainly I wouldn't pay a lot of credence to that."
"The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said earlier. "Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."
Reacting to "whopping $200 million a day" figure reported by an Indian news agency (not IANS), quoting an unnamed Maharashtra state government official, a Republican Representative Michele Bachmann had expressed outrage about it.
She criticised the reported figure as "over-the-top" spending and slammed the White House for the 'massive overspending' on Obama's maiden visit to India.
Meanwhile, Politico newspaper focusing on the presidency and congressional politics, described the report as "likely untrue" and "unsupported."
It noted, about a decade ago, the General Accounting Office released two fairly detailed reports on then President Bill Clinton's foreign travels. Secret Service costs were omitted as classified, but other government expenses were tallied up.
A Clinton trip to six countries in Africa in 1998 rang up at $42.8 million, most of that for military aircraft costs. A trip to Chile came in at $10.5 million. A trip to China that year cost $18.8 million.