AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: A day ahead of the business end of his whirlwind two-day visit to India, US President Donald Trump on Monday announced that India and the US would sign defence deals worth $3 billion. Addressing an adoring crowd of over one lakh people at the newly-built Motera cricket stadium in the Gujarat capital, Trump appeared to take everyone off guard when he said, “I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign defence deals worth over USD 3 billion to sell absolute finest state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces.”
The deals are expected to take the increasing US-India defence ties to a new level. The helicopter deal will add heft to the offence-defence capability of the Navy and the Army. It will also add to the economic volume and equipment profile which India has acquired from the US in recent years. Heaping high praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who earlier received him at the Ahmedabad airport, Trump said Modi was a “tremendously successful leader of this vast Indian republic. Last year, more than 600 million people went to the polls and gave him a landslide victory like no other in the largest democratic election ever held anywhere on the face of the earth.”
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Trump applauded India for making huge strides in expanding its economy, reducing poverty, electrifying villages, spreading the internet’s reach and providing cooking gas to the people. Each praise was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd and clapping by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the President’s daughter and son-in-law. At one point as the stadium broke into chants of “Modi, Modi, Modi,” the personal chemistry between the two leaders was on display when Trump interrupted his speech to shake Modi’s hand and declared: “Everybody loves him.”With the US going to the elections later this year, Trump appeared to reach out to the 4 million-strong Indian-American community back home when he addressed them as “our wonderful friends, colleagues and neighbours...”.
Modi a tough negotiator, says Trump
He said “they are titans of business; the biggest, the best pioneers of science; masters of the art; and innovation of technology like few people have been able to see no matter where you go anywhere in this universe.” Being small in number, the Indian-American community cannot alter the voting pattern significantly but being flush with cash, they are said to contribute hugely in the swing states during elections with their funding. In the last elections, the Indian-Americans infused $3 million into the Trump campaign, contributing significantly to his victory. “Nearly one in four Indian-Americans trace their roots right here in Gujarat. Gujarat is a special place,” Trump said to loud applause.
Trump and Modi are expected to haggle over trade during their talks on Tuesday. The US President has often criticized India in the past for its high tariff but at the Motera he said he looked forward to “very, very major” trade agreements in the future and even sounded positive.
“I am optimistic that, working together, the Prime Minister and I can reach a fantastic (trade) deal that’s good and even great for both of our countries,” he said, adding jokingly that Modi was “a very tough negotiator.”Calling Trump a friend, Modi said “India-US relations are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship. One is ‘land of the free’ the other believes the world is one family. One feels proud of the statue of liberty the other feels proud of the statue of unity.”
Bollywood in Trump’s speech
“People take great joy in scenes of bhangra... films like DDLJ and Sholay,” he said
Gifts to the power couple
A marble replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘three wise monkeys’ statue, a copy of his Talisman (a piece of wisdom) as well as a special edition of his auto-biography were among the items gifted to US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania
Visitors book entries
Sabarmati Ashram Trump wrote in the visitors’ book, “To my great friend Prime Minister Modi, thank you for this wonderful visit.” Taj Mahal “The Taj Mahal inspires awe. A timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian culture. Thank you India.”