Srinagar, Feb 24: Massive bonhomie was at display at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad on Monday as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump heaped praises on each other in their speeches in a jam-packed Motera Cricket Stadium, the world’s biggest.
Stating that India now holds a special place in the hearts of Americans, Trump said, “America loves India, America respects India and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people.”
He also announced defence deals between the two countries worth 3 billion dollars.
“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-defense systems and armed and unarmed aerial vehicles,” Trump told the cheering crowd.
Last week, India cleared $2.6 billion purchase from Lockheed Martin Corp. of 24 multi-role MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters to Indian navy.
The US State Department has also approved a potential sale to India of $1.8 billion in arms, including air-defense radars and missiles, rifles and other equipment, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced.
Trump also reiterated his pledge that the U.S. would make a significant trade deal with India.
“We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment between the United States and India,” he said. “And I am optimistic that, working together, the prime minister and I can reach a fantastic deal that’s good and even great for both of our countries.”
Both the countries, he said, had been hurt by terrorism and are united in defending citizens from its threat. “Our borders will always be closed to terrorists and extremists. Anyone who threatens our security, will pay a big price,” he said amidst a loud cheer.
“Under my administration we unleashed the full power of American military on bloodthirsty killers of ISIS. Today ISIS” territorial caliphate is 100 per cent destroyed. Monster Al Baghdadi is dead,” he said.
Without mentioning Jammu & Kashmir which was reorganised and whose special status was withdrawn by the Modi government last year inviting censure from Democrats in the US, President Trump made an oblique comment seemingly in support of India. “Every nation has a right to exercise its sovereignty and secure its borders,” he said. Incidentally, this has been the official line of India in response to the criticism in the US and negative campaign run by Pakistan.
However, he also indicated that the US was keen on taking Pakistan along for the sake of security. “Since (I have) taken office, my administration is working in a very positive manner with Pakistan to crackdown on the terrorist organisations and militants that operate on Pakistani border. Our relationship with Pakistan is a good one. There are big signs of progress for greater stability and peace of all the nations in South Asia,” he said.
Calling PM Modi a “tough negotiator”, Trump also announced that both the countries are chalking out “the biggest ever trade deals” on his visit to India.
Praising his “great friend” PM Narendra Modi, Trump said, “Modi, you are not just the pride of Gujarat but you are a living example that with hard work Indians can achieve anything they want. Everybody loves him… but I will tell you this… he is very tough.”
In his address at the stadium, Trump also made a mention of Modi’s early life as a “tea-seller.”
Lauding India’s space mission Chandrayaan II, Trump said, “The US is looking forward to cooperating with you. US and India will be partners in our journey to the stars.”
Praising the diversity of India, Trump said, “India is the country that has always been admired and where millions of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Christians worship side by side. You have always stood strong as one great Indian nation.”
Addressing a crowd of more than 1,00,000 people, the US President said, “Under PM Modi, villages in India have access to electricity. Over 300 million more have got internet connection. India will soon become the home to the world’s largest middle class. What is impressive is that India has achieved all this as a democracy and as a tolerant country. India’s achievement is unrivalled.”
“Story of the Indian nation is a tale of extraordinary diversity, world’s largest democracy, strong and noble people,” he said, praising India for exhibiting “confidence in its own people, trust in its people.”
Trump also touched on India’s cultural diversity and riches as he highlighted the success of its blockbuster movies like DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) and Sholay, and its sporting icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. “Five months ago, the United States welcomed your great Prime Minister at a giant football stadium in Texas and today, India welcomes us at the world’s largest cricket stadium right here in Ahmedabad,” he added, thanking India for its hospitability.
Before Trump’s speech, addressing the Namaste Trump event, Modi said history is being scripted at the Motera Stadium. “Five months ago, I started my journey with Howdy Modi. And today, my great friend Trump has started his journey in India in Ahmedabad with ‘Namaste Trump’. After the long journey, Trumps made their way to the Sabarmati Ashram,” said Modi, while welcoming them to the “biggest democracy in the world.” He also made the crowd chant “long live India-US friendship”.
Crediting Donald Trump for strengthening India-US ties, 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 ‘Statue of Liberty’ the other feels proud of ‘Statue of Unity’. Trump thinks very big. The entire world has seen his efforts and his leadership.”
This is Trump’s first visit to India. Following the event, the US President will leave for Agra. Thereafter, he will travel to Delhi where he is expected to wrap up issues related to trade and defence.