US President Donald Trump today said "America will always remain a loyal friend to India" as he addressed a packed stadium in Ahmedabad, hours after landing in Gujarat's largest city with First Lady Melania Trump and his family. "Namaste, America loves India," President Trump said, drawing applause from the over one-lakh strong crowd.
"Namaste, Trump," PM Modi said, opening his speech at the packed stadium.
"America-India relationship is no longer just another relationship, but an inclusive and exhaustive partnership," PM Modi said. President Trump praised India's programmes to give electricity to millions of homes and other policies that have helped the country grow, reported NDTV.
Welcoming US President Donald Trump at the ''Namaste Trump'' event at Motera stadium here, PM Modi said a "new history" is being created.
Visit of President Trump to India with his family shows strong ties between India and the US, said Modi. "Welcome to the world''s biggest democracy," the Prime Minister said. US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tried his hand at spinning the charkha at Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad today, shortly after arriving for his first official visit to India.
US President Donald Trump arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday for the first leg of his India trip.
The Air Force One plane carrying Trump and his wife Melania landed at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad at 11.37 am, officials said.
It was scheduled to land at 11.40 am. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached Ahmedabad over an hour before Trump did, was present at the airport to welcome the US president at the airport.
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"It is our pleasure to welcome and greet President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner... Their visit to India shows the importance the closeness in ties we share," PM Modi said.
"I would like to begin by thanking my special friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister - the son of a tea seller in this very city - has had a remarkable rise... He is a great man. Everybody loves him, but he is a very tough guy," President Trump said.
"The rise of India in the last seven decades has been remarkable... The pace at which it has grown in the last two decades is phenomenal... The people of India are an inspiration for the rest of the world," President Trump said.
The two-day state visit comes ahead of President Trump's re-election bid - the US votes in November - and just months after PM Modi's "Howdy, Modi!" event in Texas last year. Mr Trump's visit also comes amid tense trade talks between the two countries.
President Trump's convoy passed through the Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad, which contains several slums. A four-foot tall, 500-metre-long wall has been built along this section, which residents say is meant to "hide the poor people" ahead of Mr Trump's visit. Local officials, however, say the decision to build the wall was taken well before the presidential visit.
At Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram, President Trump and the First Lady tried their hand at spinning the charkha as PM Modi explained the significance of the traditional spinning wheel to the visitors. PM Modi was seen showing the Trumps around the revered ashram and explaining the marble depiction of Gandhi's three monkeys to Melania Trump.
President Trump and his family were served high tea, which, reports said, featured broccoli samosas and apple pie. "Namaste, Trump" is being seen by many as a parallel to the lavish "Howdy, Modi!" event organised for PM Modi in Houston during his visit last year to the US. The stadium, which has a capacity of over one lakh, filled up hours before the event.
From Ahmedabad, Donald Trump and his family will travel to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, which has been treated to several rounds of beautification with the help of mud packs. President Trump and his family will fly to Delhi this evening for the operative part of the trip, which includes high level talks tomorrow. An Indo-US trade deal is likely to be discussed.
Apart from growing protectionism, Donald Trump's visit also comes against the backdrop of India's multibillion-dollar purchase of a Russian missile shield system, which had added friction to its ties with Washington. Among other issues the two leaders will discuss during this visit is religious freedom in India.
First Lady Melania Trump's scheduled visit to a Delhi government school has also drawn controversy after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia were dropped from the event. Tensions between Mr Kejriwal's AAP, which rules Delhi and PM Modi's BJP, in power at the centre, spiked after a bitterly fought Delhi Assembly election last month that the AAP won. Late Sunday evening the US embassy issued a clarification.