NEW DELHI: Minutes before departing for India, US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he had committed to the trip “a long time ago” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a ‘great friend’. “It is a long trip but I look forward to being with the people of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a great friend of mine,” he said before his departure from the Andrews Air Force Base. Without hiding his excitement about the “big event” in India, Trump claimed Modi had told him it would be India’s biggest ever. The US President and First Lady Melania Trump along with a 12-member official delegation, including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, will arrive in Ahmedabad on Monday around 11.30 am.
They will then proceed to the Sabarmati Ashram. According to sources, the US president will be gifted a spinning wheel, two books on Mahatma Gandhi and a portrait of the Father of the Nation during his visit to the Ashram, which served as Gandhi’s home during the freedom struggle. This is the first time that a US president will visit the Ashram, which has seen high-profile guests in the past including Queen Elizabeth, Chinese President XI Jingping, the Dalai Lama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The stop at Sabarmati en route Motera, where the Namaste Trump event will be held, was confirmed only on Sunday. The newly built cricket stadium is the largest in the world with a capacity of 1.21 lakh. On the second day of his trip, Trump along with Melania will visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, where they will spend an hour admiring the iconic monument. From Agra, they will head to Delhi, where Trump and Melania will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. After the ceremonial welcome, the Trumps will visit the Rajghat, where they will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Thereafter, restricted and delegation-level talks will be held between Trump and Modi at the Hyderabad House, where the two leaders are expected to wrap up issues related to trade and defence deals with India.