US President Trump arrives in Delhi

New Delhi: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump upon their arrival at the AFS Palam in New Delhi, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Trump is on a two-day visit to India. Courtesy: PTI Photo/Subhav Shukla

United States President Donald Trump, on his maiden visit to India, arrived in the national capital on Monday evening for the main leg of his trip during which he will hold extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The two leaders will aim to expand the India-US global partnership during their talks on Tuesday, a day after both lavished praise on each other and vowed to script a better future for people of the two democracies. Before leaving for India, Trump had described Modi as his “friend” and did the same at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad earlier in the day.

Trump, who was received at the Palam airport in Delhi by Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and a number of senior officials, will stay at ITC Maurya hotel.

Trump, accompanied by wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and the top brass of his administration, arrived in Ahmedabad around noon for a little less than 36-hour-long trip to India.

After Ahmedabad, the delegation travelled to Agra where they visited the Taj Mahal.

In his address at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, Trump announced that deals to sell state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment worth over $3 billion will be sealed on Tuesday.

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

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,” he said.

The deals Trump mentioned will include procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India from the US 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.

“I am pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” Trump said.

Tuesday’s talks between Modi and Trump are 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.

However, they are unlikely to produce tangible outcome in resolving thorny issues like trade tariffs.

Trump and Modi are likely to focus on a wide variety of bilateral and regional issues including trade and investment, defence and security, counter-terrorism, H1B, energy security, religious freedom, proposed peace deal with Taliban in Afghanistan and situation in the Indo-Pacific, according to Indian and US officials.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar earlier said five pacts providing for cooperation in areas of intellectual property rights, trade facilitation and homeland security are expected to be finalised during Trump’s visit.

Last week, Kumar said India does not want to create “artificial deadlines”. The US has been seeking greater access to India’s huge poultry and dairy markets. However, India has some reservations over it.

On the morning of February 25, Trump and First Lady Melania will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. From there, they will go to Rajghat to pay homage at the ‘samadhi’ of Mahatma Gandhi.

This will be followed by restricted and delegation-level talks between Trump and Modi at Hyderabad House, after which Modi will host a lunch.

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

In the evening, Trump will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where a banquet will be hosted in his honour. Trump will depart from India later on Tuesday evening.