President Trump began a two-day visit to India, joining Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a ‘Namaste Trump’ rally in a newly renovated world’s largest cricket stadium on Monday.
In addressing the enthusiastic crowd, Trump called Modi a “true friend,” praising his leadership, while thanking the Indian people for its warm welcome.
“Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to an exceptional leader, a great champion of India, a man who works night and day for his country, and a man I am proud to call my true friend: Prime Minister Modi,” Trump said, during his 30 minute remark, adding he is a tough leader.
“The First Lady and I have just traveled 8,000 miles around the globe to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people. To the hundreds of thousands of everyday citizens who have come out and lined the streets in a stunning display of Indian culture and kindness, and to the 125,000 people in this great stadium today, thank you for the spectacular welcome to your magnificent country. Melania and my family, we will always remember this remarkable hospitality.”
More than 100,000 people packed the cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, nearly all of then wearing white caps with the name of the event, “Namaste, Trump.” The event was a sequel to the “Howdy, Modi” rally Trump held for the Indian Prime Minister in Houston last September.
As Modi and Trump came out on stage, the song “Macho Man” by the Village People was heard playing in the stadium. Shortly after each country’s national anthem played, Modi began speaking to the crowd about shared values and ideas, before introducing Trump
“President Trump thinks big, and the world knows what he has done to realize the American dream,” Modi said to the cheering crowd.
During his remarks, Trump declared that both the U.S. and India were united in recognizing the need to “defend ourselves from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”
“The United States and India are also firmly united in our iron-clad resolve to defend our citizens from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said. “Both of our countries have been hurt by the pain and turmoil of terrorism and that terrorism brings.”
He announced that the two countries will sign deals on Tuesday to sell military helicopters worth $3 billion and that the United States must become the premier defense partner of India, which relied on Russian equipment during the Cold War.
“I am pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest state of the art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” Trump said. “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.”
Thousands lined the street in Ahmedabad with many cheering Trump and waving American and Indians flags as his motorcade drove to the stadium. Large billboards were spread throughout the route showing Modi alongside Trump and his wife Melania
Both leaders are expected to discuss stalled trade talks between the two nations. A trade war erupted between the two nations after the president levied tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as stripped the country of its preferential export status. India responded with higher tariffs on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices.
Trump briefly teased in his remarks that both nations are in the “early stages” for an “incredible trade agreement.
“Over the course of my visit, Prime Minister Modi and I will also discuss our efforts to expand the economic ties between our two countries,” the president said. “We will be making very, very major — among the biggest ever made trade deals. “We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment between the United States and India. 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.”
Following the rally, Trump and the first lady visited the Taj Mahal, as the first couple posed for photos in front of India’s most famous monument.