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Donald Trump’s maiden India tour as US President: Everything you need to know

Donald Trump’s maiden India tour as US President: Everything you need to know

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 23 Feb 2020, 06:58 pm

US President Donald Trump’s visit to India with First Lady Melania Trump on Feb 24-25, for what would be his first visit to the country since he took office four years ago, will be a brief and crucial one, with pomp and show, for both the world leaders.

"I look forward to going to India," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

"He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is a friend of mine. He's a great gentleman," Trump reportedly said in response to a question.

In an interaction with media, the US President said, "He (Modi) told me "We''ll have seven million people between the airport and the event'."

He added, "The stadium in my understanding has got semi-under construction but it is going to be the largest stadium in the world. So it will be very exciting..."

Meanwhile, Modi shared his excitement over the visit of Trump and tweeted on Sunday: "India looks forward to welcoming @POTUS @realDonaldTrump

It is an honour that he will be with us tomorrow, starting with the historic programme in Ahmedabad!"

When is Trump visiting?

US President Donald Trump would visit on February 24-25, after his impeachment proceedings are over.

Trump was supposed to grace the Republic Day parade as the chief guest last year but he could not come siting official reasons. Trump has visited India before but on business trips, this would be first visit as the President of US. It would be the fifth US presidential visit since 2000.

The purpose of the visit

Though the focus of the Modi-Trump summit would likely be on the business side of the relationship as India has doubled its import of American energy, which is set to reach $ 8 billion annually, and goods which includes big purchases of civilian planes and military hardware, the US President has clearly stated Washington will have no trade deal with New Delhi for now.

Trump told media, "Well we can have a trade deal with India but I am really saving the big deal for later on. We are doing a very big trade deal with India. We'll have it. I don't know whether it'll be done before the election but we''ll have a very big deal with India.

We are not very well treated in India but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot...." (sic)

Though New Delhi was eager to strike a trade deal, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had earlier cancelled his India visit over weather issues and some other reasons.

Ross was expected to hold a trade dialogue with India's Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

US and India also have a common target to contain China by limiting the latter’s policies on the Indo-Pacific region, and to push back against the Beijing-Moscow alignment in Asia.

Last year, India and US conducted the first tri-service military exercise, ‘Tiger Triumph’ which consolidates the above claim.

There can also be talks on the on-going Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue (QSD) of the US, India, Japan and Australia which might prove crucial after China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Crucial defence deals for the acquisition of sea hawk helicopters and reconnaissance drones are said to be on the cards. As the biggest arms supplier, the U.S. stands to benefit from the deals, while India, the biggest arms buyer, would look forward to get a good deal.

Modi-Trump relationship

PM Modi and President Trump share a strong personal relationship, which was evident in the ‘Howdy Modi’ show last year in Houston, Texas where the two leaders endorsed each other before a massive Indian diaspora where they both looked forward in deepening the strategic partnership between India and the US.

Their chemistry was evident during the four times that they met in 2019.

Both the leaders have similar stances on issues involving Muslims; Modi’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is said to be in line with Trump’s denial of visa to Muslims from certain countries. The Trump administration also doesn’t hold the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) against the Modi government, but its opposition, the Democrats, trenchantly criticise them which is bound to leave a mark on India-U.S. relations.

India’s view on Trump

A Pew research survey showed 56% of people polled in in India expressing confidence in Trump, next only to approval he received in Philippines (77%), Israel (71%), Kenya (65%), and Nigeria (58%).

India’s inclination for US under Trump administration has probably risen after Trump’s tough stance on Pakistan as a part of its war on terrorism, even though he receives the most negative marks worldwide among world leaders.

Trump Administration has also offered India armed drones and integrated air and missile defence technology, both of which were denied by the Barack Obama regime which didn’t want to alter the balance with Pakistan, which had been a key ally of US during the Soviet-Afghan war.

India’s preparation for the visit

India is all excited to receive Trump and his wife, while the main city of Ahmedabad, the capital Gujarat and PM Modi’s place of origin, is getting a major facelift to host the American president.

“Extremely delighted that @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS will visit India on 24th and 25th February. India will accord a memorable welcome to our esteemed guests. This visit is a very special one and it will go a long way in further cementing India-USA friendship," Modi said in a post on Twitter.

The enthusiasm seemed mutual, with First Lady Melania Trump saying she and her husband are “excited” about their India and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inviting them.

“Thank you @narendramodi for the kind invitation. Looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad & New Delhi later this month @POTUS & I are excited for the trip and to celebrate the close ties between the #USA & #India,” the first lady said in a Twitter post on Wednesday night, in response to the Indian prime minister’s earlier announcement of the visit.

As part of the grand welcome for the Trumps, a lot of infrastructural work has been undertaken all around Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar which include the construction of over half-a-kilometre long and seven feet high wall by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to hide a slum cluster from the view of US President Donald Trump.

The event, dubbed as “Namaste Trump”, is rumoured to be a replica  of the “Howdy Modi” show that took place in Houston, Texas last year, when Modi and Trump addressed a 50,000-strong Indian audience.

The venue for "Namaste Trump" will be in the newly- constructed Sardar Patel Stadium at Ahmedabad's  which has a seating capacity of 1.10 lakh, more than the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia, the biggest cricket stadium in the world. Trump will inaugurate the stadium.

The President is also likely to visit Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world. Taj Mahal is located in Agra, a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Any likely setbacks?

According to The Hindu, days before U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India, four Senators, who have described themselves as “longtime friends of India”, have written to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for an assessment of the situation in Kashmir as well as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizenship (NRC).

Trump would likely offer to mediate between India and Pakistan regarding the Kashmir issue.

Trump has often said that he has good relationships with both Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He has also repeatedly offered his mediation services.

It might also be a big setback if India and U.S. can’t achieve a modest trade deal with U.S. President Donald Trump visiting India, says top U.S. diplomat, for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells.

US’s stance on Iran and India’s purchase of S-400 missile defence system from Russia might add to the list of setbacks.

Donald Trump’s maiden India tour as US President: Everything you need to know

India Blooms News Service
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