Trump arrives in India for first official visit



US President Donald Trump landed in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on Monday (Feb 24) at the start of a visit during which the two sides will aim to reset relations that have been buffeted by a trade spat.

India and the United States have built close political and security ties and Mr Trump’s two-day trip is a sign of their converging interests, officials say, including a way to counter China’s rise as a superpower.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the airport to greet Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, as they stepped off Air Force One.

A road show is planned and a huge reception will be held in a 110,000-seat cricket stadium in the city which is the political home of Mr Modi.

A huge crowd has filled the stadium, claimed to be the world’s biggest cricket ground.

In the stadium, many people were wearing customised white hats saying “Namaste (Greetings) Trump”, while workers handed out thousands of cardboard masks of the US President.

“We are ready to come to India, we are on our way, we will be meeting everyone in a few hours,” Mr Trump tweeted in the Hindi language before he landed.

Mr Modi tweeted in response: “The guest is God”.

Mr Modi, who has built a personal rapport with Mr Trump, is pulling out the stops for Mr Trump’s visit even though a trade deal that Washington was pushing for has run into problems.

The rally in Ahmedabad will be a larger version of the “Howdy Modi” rally that Mr Trump and Mr Modi jointly appeared at in Houston to a jubilant crowd of 50,000 Indian Americans last year, where Mr Trump likened Mr Modi to Elvis Presley for his crowd-pulling power.

His entourage includes daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner besides members of his Cabinet, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Many roads were blocked off in Ahmedabad, shops shut and police stationed on rooftops and balconies.

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