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Namaste Trump: US President hails Modi at India rally

AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump received a red-carpet welcome on Monday addressing a huge rally at a mega cricket stadium on a maiden official visit to India.
Trade tensions have grown between the US and India as Trump’s “America First” drive collides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s protectionist “Make in India” mantra.
India has bristled at Trump’s offer to mediate in the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, and unease in Washington over a citizenship law criticised as anti-Muslim.

READ MORE: Trump to discuss Kashmir issue with Indian leadership during visit

Trump and First Lady Melania visited independence hero Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, where the Indian Prime Minister gifted him a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” three wise monkeys statue.
Both leaders then headed to a new cricket stadium — the biggest in the world — where Trump heaped praise on Modi as an “exceptional leader, a great champion of India” in front of a crowd of around 100,000.
“America loves India. America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump told the crowd. Trump paid tribute to the four-million-strong Indian-American diaspora as “truly special people”.
“President Trump’s visit opens a new chapter in our relationship — a chapter that will document the progress and prosperity of the people of America and India,” Modi said. “The whole world knows what President Trump has done to fulfill the dreams of America.”

READ MORE: Trump to take up Kashmir issue with Indian leadership in New Delhi: FO

The “Namaste Trump” rally reciprocated a “Howdy Modi” event in Houston last year where Trump likened Modi to Elvis. Workers rushed to finish the stadium and a wall that locals said was to hide a slum, while stray dogs, cows, and monkeys were also kept away.
Later on Monday, Trump and Melania flew to the Taj Mahal for sunset before the main official talks tomorrow. Several parts of the white marble “jewel of Muslim art” were given a mud-pack facial to remove stains, while efforts were made to lessen the stench of the adjacent river.
Behind the warm rapport, there lies a fraught relationship between the two leaders worsened by the trade protectionism of both governments. Trump has called Modi the “tariff king” and said before his visit that India had been “hitting us very, very hard for many, many years”.
Rather than a wide-ranging trade deal, Trump and Modi may instead sign smaller agreements covering products such as motorcycles and US dairy products. “We are in the early stages of discussions for an incredible trade agreement,” Trump told the rally, calling Modi a “very tough negotiator”.
The two men were expected to sign a number of defence deals during the visit, and to discuss the supply of six nuclear reactors. In Washington, India has faced criticism over its clampdown in restive Kashmir, and the recently passed citizenship law that has led to ongoing protests across the nation.
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