After being greeted with fanfare, US President Donald Trump sat with Indian leaders on Tuesday (2/25/2020) for talks on arms sales and trade disputes that have caused tensions in relations between the two countries over the past few months.
More than 100,000 people filled the cricket stadium in western India on Monday for the “Namaste Trump” event at the biggest reception for a foreign leader for years that Trump called “an amazing display of Indian culture and goodness.”
But the two countries have been arguing about a trade agreement and on Tuesday Trump will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to try and close the difference in agricultural commodities, medical equipment, digital trade, and propose new tariffs.
The US has signed a trade agreement with China, and separated agreements with Canada and Mexico, and pushed for an agreement with India which Trump described as “the king of tariffs.”
Trump said at a rally in Ahmedabad that Modi was a tough negotiator but the two countries were in the initial stages of a major agreement.
In New Delhi, Trump received an official reception at the red brick-walled presidential palace, in honor of 21 cannon eruptions and red uniformed honorary soldiers riding horses.
India is one of the few large countries in the world where Trump’s personal approval rating is above 50 percent and Trump’s trip is fully covered. Some commentators say Trump’s first visit to the world’s largest democracy needs to be noted.
They also praised Modi for giving a spectacular welcome to Trump.
“Modi-Trump’s arms are getting tighter,” the Times of India aired.
But political tensions in India were marked by strong protests that took place in Delhi on Monday over a new citizenship law which critics say discriminates against Muslims and is a further effort to weaken the secular foundations of Indian democracy. They say the law is part of the pattern of divisions followed by Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
At least five people were killed and around 90 others injured in clashes that took place in other parts of the capital, far from downtown where Modi is hosting Trump.
In his speech on Monday, Trump praised the rise of India as a stable and prosperous democracy as one of the achievements of this century.
“You have shown yourself to be a tolerant country. And you have done it as a great free country,” he said.
Trump plans to raise the issue of religious freedom in India with Modi, an administration official said last week.
Delhi has also struggled with high air pollution and on Tuesday the air quality was quite poor at 193 on the government index that measures pollution up to a scale of 500. WHO considers air pollution levels above 60 as unhealthy.
Source: Antara / Reuters