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On Day 2 of India visit, Modi and Trump to get down to business

Trump, his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and top brass of his administration, arrived in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad around noon on Monday for his nearly 36-hour-long first-ever visit to India.

Updated: Feb 25, 2020 04:37 IST

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times New Delhi

US President Donald Trump is welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad. (REUTERS)

A day after Donald Trump was feted by India, US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold extensive talks on Tuesday on the next phase of the bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries.

The two leaders heaped praises at each other during their addresses at the packed “Namaste Trump” event at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad and the US president announced that deals to sell state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment worth more than $3 billion will be sealed on Tuesday.

Trump, his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and top brass of his administration, arrived in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad around noon on Monday for his nearly 36-hour-long first-ever visit to India.

The US president was given a red-carpet treatment at the world’s largest cricket stadium in the “Namaste Trump” event and was cheered by tens of thousands of people as Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited him to address them.

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“We love you. We love you, India, very much,” Trump said finishing his 27-minute speech in which he lauded Modi and spoke highly about India’s achievements in diverse areas.

The Prime Minister was equally lavish with his praise for Trump.

Talking about defence and strategic ties between the two countries, Trump said the US is looking forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet.

“We make the greatest weapons ever made: airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best. And we’re dealing now with India. But this includes advanced air defence systems and armed and unarmed aerial vehicles,” Trump said.

The deals mentioned by Trump will include procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India from the United States at a cost of $2.6 billion. Another contract to acquire six AH-64E Apache helicopters for $800 million from the US is also on the table.

Also read: Trump’s trip to India a message for Pakistan?

Tuesday’s agenda

After the pomp and pageantry of the first leg of the visit on Monday, Trump and Modi are expected to get down to business during their restricted and delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Besides the signing of the defence deals and at least five memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on issues ranging from civil nuclear cooperation to natural gas and trade facilitation, the two leaders will also review the global and regional situation and discuss ways to take forward bilateral relations.

Tuesday’s talks between Modi and Trump are also likely to send across a clear message of growing congruence of interests between India and the US on major geopolitical developments in the region and beyond, particularly when China has been expanding its military and economic clout.

Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi may focus on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

They will include trade and investment, defence and security, counter-terrorism, H1B visas, energy security, religious freedom, the proposed peace deal with Taliban in Afghanistan and situation in the Indo-Pacific, according to Indian and US officials.

However, the talks between the two leaders are unlikely to produce a tangible outcome in resolving thorny issues like trade tariffs.

Prospects of the two sides signing a limited trade deal during Trump’s visit have looked slim after a top US trade negotiator cancelled an India visit to wrap up negotiations without ascribing reasons.

Also read: Vedas to Vivekananda, DDLJ to Sachin: Donald Trump goes full desi

The US is seeking access to Indian markets in dairy and poultry, removal of control over medical device prices in a limited trade deal and India has sought relief from tariffs on its steel and aluminium exports to the US and restoration of benefits under a zero-duty preferential trade programme.

Rajghat, meetings banquet

Trump and the First Lady would be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday morning. The Trumps will then visit Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.

It would be followed by restricted and delegation-level talks between Trump and Modi at Hyderabad House. Prime Minister Modi would also host a lunch for the US president after the talks.

Trump is expected to attend certain private events at the US embassy, including a roundtable with industry representatives, in the afternoon.

In the evening, the US president will meet President Ram Nath Kovind and his trip will culminate in a grand banquet for select guests at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

President Trump will depart from India later in the evening.


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