US President Donald Trump and First Woman Melania Trump disembark from Air Power One at Palam Air Power Base in New Delhi on February 24, 2020. Prakash SINGH / AFP
US President Donald Trump obtained a rapturous and romantic welcome to India on Monday, addressing an enormous rally and holding fingers together with his spouse on the Taj Mahal, in a maiden official go to large on photograph alternatives however brief on concrete outcomes.
Casting a cloud over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s welcome, nevertheless, a policeman and at the very least three civilians had been killed in clashes in New Delhi over a contentious citizenship legislation hours earlier than the US president was due within the Indian capital.
On the world’s greatest cricket stadium in Modi’s house state of Gujarat in western India, Trump heaped reward on the Indian right-winger as an “exceptional leader, a great champion of India”, earlier than a crowd of round 100,00zero.
“America loves India. America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump advised the ecstatic crowd, many in Trump-emblazoned baseball caps.
Identify-checking Bollywood movies and Indian cricketers, Trump — with an eye fixed on elections in November — paid tribute to the four-million-strong Indian-American diaspora as “truly special people”.
“President Trump’s visit opens a new chapter in our relationship — a chapter that will document the progress and prosperity of the people of America and India,” Modi mentioned.
“The whole world knows what President Trump has done to fulfil the dreams of America.”
Excited spectators had queued from Four:00 am for the “Namaste Trump” rally, reciprocating a “Howdy Modi” occasion in Houston final 12 months the place Trump likened Modi to Elvis.
Employees rushed to complete the stadium and erect a wall alongside the route that locals mentioned was to cover a slum. Stray canines, cows and monkeys had been additionally saved away.
“Events like these will galvanise people to start to cooperate in new initiatives,” mentioned Pramit Maakoday, an Indian-American within the stadium.
Earlier than the speech, Trump and First Woman Melania visited independence hero Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, the place Modi gave him a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” three smart monkeys statue.
Later Trump and Melania — in an off-white jumpsuit and sash alongside her husband in a buttercup-yellow tie — flew to the Taj Mahal for a pre-sunset tour.
Then they headed to Delhi forward of the primary talks on Tuesday.
Elements of the Taj Mahal, the marble monument to like that UNESCO calls a “jewel of Muslim art”, got a mud-pack facial to take away stains, whereas efforts had been made to minimize the stench of the adjoining river.
Behind the platitudes and blossoming bromance between the 2 leaders lies a fraught relationship as Trump’s “America First” drive collides with Modi’s “Make in India” mantra.
Trump has imposed tariffs on Indian metal and aluminium and suspended duty-free entry for sure items, prompting India to boost duties on the US to provide similar to almonds.
The US chief has known as India the “tariff king”, and mentioned earlier than his go to that Asia’s third-largest financial system had been “hitting us very, very hard for many, many years”.
Somewhat than a wide-ranging commerce deal, studies mentioned Trump and Modi might as a substitute signal smaller agreements masking merchandise similar to Harley-Davidson bikes and US dairy merchandise.
“We are in the early stages of discussions for an incredible trade agreement,” Trump advised the rally, calling Modi a “very tough negotiator”.
“I am in no rush,” he advised reporters later.
With the US and India sharing considerations about China, the 2 males had been anticipated to signal a variety of defence offers throughout the go to and to debate the provision of six nuclear reactors.
Russia, nevertheless, stays India’s greatest provider in arms, with India having agreed to purchase Moscow’s $5.Four-billion S-400 missile defence system regardless of the specter of US sanctions.
The US has pressured India to cease shopping for Iranian oil, whereas US companies have raised considerations over New Delhi’s plans to power overseas corporations to retailer Indian customers’ private information contained in the nation.
India has bristled at Trump’s provide to mediate within the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan which a 12 months in the past once more introduced the 2 nuclear-armed neighbours near warfare.
In Washington, India has confronted criticism over its clampdown in restive Kashmir, and the not too long ago handed citizenship legislation that has led to protests throughout the nation, together with in New Delhi on Monday.
A senior US administration official advised reporters Trump would increase considerations about non secular freedom within the Hindu-majority nation throughout the journey, “which is extremely important to this administration”.
Trump ridiculed Modi final 12 months for “constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan”.
“That’s like five hours of what we spend,” Trump mentioned.