Ahmedabad joint rally with Trump will be historic, says Modi

Ahmedabad joint rally with Trump will be historic, says Modi

U.S. President to visit Sabarmati Ashram ahead of ‘Namaste Trump’ event

Hours before the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for his first visit to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said their joint rally in Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium will be a “historic” event.

Mr. Trump will arrive in Ahmedabad just before noon on Monday at the start of a 36-hour visit that is expected to see the signing of several defence agreements and MoUs on homeland security, space and medical cooperation.

American officials have said Mr. Trump will raise the situation in Kashmir and the on-going protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act during talks.

India looks forward to welcoming President Donald Trump. It is an honour that he will be with us tomorrow, starting with the historic programme in Ahmedabad,” said Mr. Modi in a tweet on Sunday.

The message echoed the earlier comment by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who also sent out a social media message welcoming the American head of state.

U.S. Ambassador Ken Juster also made a formal announcement on the visit, saying, “Big week coming up for the U.S.-India partnership. Tomorrow, President @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS will be wheels down in #India for events & meetings that will further strengthen the enduring bonds between the American & Indian people. #NamasteTrump.”

“This is the first time any U.S. President will connect with the Indian people at large, an acknowledgement of the important space that people-to-people ties have played,” a senior official involved in the planning of the visit told The Hindu.

While this is the first such public rally in Ahmedabad, US President Dwight Eisenhower did address a joint rally with PM Jawaharlal Nehru at Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds in 1959, which an estimated crowd of 5 lakh people had attended.

The Ministry of External Affairs brushed off suggestions that U.S. government statements on Kashmir and CAA as well as allegations that Indian negotiators had held up the trade deal expected to have been signed during the Trump visit.

An official said despite comments from a senior administration official that Mr. Trump would particularly raise “religious freedom” issues, as well as the trouble in trade ties, the important message was that “Mr. Trump is coming to India, one of the very few visits he will make in election year, accompanied by his closest family members, and reflects how strong India-U.S. ties are.”

President Trump will reach Ahmedabad and will begin his trip with a visit to the Sabarmati Ashram. He will then address the “Namaste Trump” event at the Motera stadium, accompanied by Prime Minister Modi. Thereafter, U.S. leader will leave for Agra’s Taj Mahal, where he is expected to be greeted by U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Mr Trump will then fly to Delhi later in the evening.

Mr. Modi will meet President Trump in the front lawns of Hyderabad House on Tuesday morning. This will be a continuation of a tradition that Mr Modi had attempted during President Barack Obama’s visit in January 2019.

Both sides are expected to fast track the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), to be discussed during defence talks in March. Once sealed, BECA, the third logistic agreement between the militaries, will ensure smooth flow of high end technology from the U.S. to India.

Apart from the strategic and military aspect, both sides are expected to take up trade relationship especially since President Trump himself has announced that he will seal a big trade deal with India later this year. There are Indian concerns about the agriculture and dairy sectors in such a scenario that are yet to be clarified by the officials.

Reflecting the trade interests, Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Chandrajit Banerjee emphasised on the “future growth sectors” and said, “We must build upon and consider new frontiers for business and trade.”

President Trump will be hosted for a state banquet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where he will also hold a meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind, before leaving India in Tuesday evening.

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