UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM MODI; ADDS MORE DETAILS
By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI, India (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump has said that his administration was working with Pakistan in a "very positive way" in the fight against terrorism.
Addressing more than 100,000 people at a stadium in Ahmedabad, capital of India’s western province of Gujarat, Trump said: “The United States and India are committed to working together to stop terrorists and to fight their ideology. For this reason, since taking office, my administration is working in a very positive way with Pakistan to crack down on the terrorist organizations on the border.”
"Relationship with Pakistan is a very good one," he underlined.
"Thanks to these efforts, we are beginning to see scientific progress with Pakistan. And we are hopeful for reducing tensions, greater stability of the future of harmony, for all of the nations of South Asia," he told the crowd, soon after arriving in India.
Trump along with his wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner arrived in the Indian city of Ahmedabad on their first leg of a two-day official visit on Monday. They were welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as both leaders delivered speeches at the stadium.
The U.S. president also emphasized the "everlasting" relationship between Washington and New Delhi, as he highlighted the military cooperation between the two countries.
"As we continue to build our defense cooperation. The United States looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet."
He also noted that they will sign "deals to sell over $3 billion" defense equipment to India on Tuesday.
"I believe that the United States should be India's premier defense partner, and that's the way it's working out. Together we will defend our sovereignty, security, and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region for our children and for many many generations to come." The reference to Indo-Pacific assumes significance as it was an oblique reference to Chinese claims on the waters.
- Trade talks at preliminary stage
On a trade deal between the two nations, Trump said they are in the "early stages of discussion for the credible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment" between the U.S and India.
He noted that Modi is "a very tough negotiator," but, he was "optimistic" to reach a "fantastic deal."
Modi, in his opening address at the stadium, said: “India-U.S. 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 'statue of liberty' the other feels proud of 'statue of unity'.”
Earlier, Trump was accorded a grand welcome by Modi on his arrival at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport in Ahmedabad.
Trump and Modi embarked on a 22-km-long roadshow, with people waving at them on both sides of the road on way the Motera stadium.
A large number of people had lined up along the route from the airport to the stadium. There were artisans from different regions of India, showcasing their skills. Along the way, 28 stages were set up, representing various parts of the country. The route also featured decorations depicting lifetime events and achievements of India’s freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi.
Trump along with his wife visited Sabarmati Ashram, which was Mahatma Gandhi’s residence from 1915-1933.
"To my great friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thank you for this wonderful visit," Trump wrote in the visitor's book at Sabarmati Ashram, the abode of Mahatma Gandhi during India’s freedom struggle. However, he did not mention Gandhi in his remarks in the visitor’s book.
- Besides optics
Despite the great optics, the chances of a trade deal between both the countries is unlikely.
The U.S. is the second-largest trading partner of India after China; India is the ninth-largest trading partner of the U.S.
In 2018, $142.6 billion worth of goods and services traded between the U.S. and India. India exported $83.9 billion to the Washington and imported $58.7 billion.
Ahead of the visit, Amnesty International said “anti-Muslim sentiment permeates” the policies of both American and Indian leaders and alleged that the values that the two governments now share are bigotry and hostility.
Trump’s visit has come at a time, when India is witnessing protests over a controversial citizenship law which is considered discriminatory against Muslims.
Clashes were witnessed in some parts of New Delhi for the second consecutive day on Monday, ahead of Trump’s visit to the city.