Daily US Times, Delhi: US President Donald Trump got a massive reception after he landed in India’s Gujarat state for his first official visit to the country.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi enveloped him in a bear hug soon after he came out from Air Force One.
The visit will focus on deepening ties between the world’s largest democracy and one of the most powerful countries in the world.
From the airport, Donald Trump went to the Motera stadium, which is claimed to be the world’s largest cricket venue. The two leaders are expected to address more than 100,000 people at a rally there. The event is compared to last year’s “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston, where at least 50,000 people attended.
Thousands of Indians have qued both sides of the roads along the 22km route to the stadium. Thousands of billboards are emblazoned with pictures of both men. Some posters carry slogans like “two dynamic personalities, one momentous occasion”.
The roadshow also features performances from across the country, a way to display Indian cultures and arts.
Before Trump headed to the stadium, he made a quick stop at the Sabarmati Ashram, where Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat, lived for 13 years.
Both Mr. Trump and his wife US First Lady Melania Trump tried their hand at the charka or spinning wheel, which is used to spin cloth. Gandhi popularized the act as a form of protest against foreign-made cloth during India’s independence movement.
“To my great friend Prime Minister Modi, thank you for this wonderful visit,” Mr. Trump wrote in the ashram visitor’s book.
Donald Trump has been tweeting about his India visit for a while. He said he was looking forward “to being with the people of India”.
“We are going to have many millions and millions of people. It’s a long trip. I get along very well with Prime Minister Modi. He is a friend of mine,” he said.
“I hear it’s going to be a big event… the biggest event they ever had in India.”
Donald Trump’s landing in Gujrat, which is also Modi’s home state, made the state a festive look. For the last couple of days, there was nothing but Trump’s visit there got the highest focus.
Trump though stayed a short time in Gujrat. He flew to Delhi as his next stop.
But amid the fanfare, a much-talked about trade deal is unlikely to happen during the visit.
What is at stake during the visit?
India is one of the US’s most important trade partners while the two countries’ bilateral trade totaled $142.6bn (£110.3bn) in 2018. The US had a $25.2bn goods and services trade deficit with India, its 9th largest trading partner in goods.
Despite growing ties between the two countries, Trump said several time previously that India’s tariffs – taxes on imports – are “unacceptable”, and has described India as the “king” of tariffs.
In June 2019, the US ended preferential trade status for India, the largest beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – a scheme that allows some goods to enter the US duty-free.
The move caused tensions between the two after India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products.
According to a US report published last year, India’s tariff rates on other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) remain “the highest of any major economy”.
But amid all the differences, Trump and Modi are also expected to sign a clutch of other agreements relating to intellectual property rights, trade, and homeland security.
In a clear sign of ever closer defense relations, India is expected to sign two big deals with the US to acquire 30 American defense helicopters – MH-60R Seahawk and AH-64E Apache – worth more than $2.6bn.
Trump hails India
While speaking at Motera Stadium, Trump hails India’s role in fighting “radical Islamic terrorism”
“The United States and India are also firmly united in our iron clad resolve to defend our citizens from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” the US President said. “Both of our countries have been hurt by the pain and turmoil of terrorism and that terrorism brings.”
Trump provided a wide list of his achievements during his first term in office, he said that he is in India to “expand our partnership of incredible power and potential.”
He added that he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold discussions on “strong and fair partnerships to build a safer and more prosperous world.”
The President also praised India’s achievements and culture.
PM Modi and President Donald Trump’s Roadshow to Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
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