Trump’s India visit moves from pomp to trade, military talks
US president not in a hurry for a trade deal as tensions rise following steel and aluminum tariffs on India exports.
NEW DELHI — President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to India turned to substance Feb. 25 after opening with a heavy dose of pomp and pageantry, but few concrete accomplishments were expected from the whirlwind trip.
Trump kicked off his second day on the subcontinent with an elaborate outdoor welcome ceremony in front of the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi.
Cannons fired as the president’s armoured car, nicknamed “The Beast,” rolled through the palace gates accompanied by a parade of red-uniformed guards on horseback. The ceremony included hundreds of military officials, marching with instruments and swords, as well as an official greeting by India’s president and its prime minister, Narendra Modi.
A day earlier in New Delhi, at least seven people, including a police officer, were killed and dozens were injured in clashes between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law in India that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims, police said Tuesday.
There were no protests in New Delhi on Feb. 25, when Modi hosted Trump at Hyderabad House in the capital for the official portion of the president’s visit to India.
“The last two days were amazing in every sense of the word,” Trump said as he and Modi briefly addressed reporters. Trump said progress was being made on trade, fighter-jet purchases and energy.
Modi said he was thankful Trump visited despite the presidential campaign underway in the US. Trump has said the short India visit was partly due to presidential politics.
“I know that it’s busy time for you in the United States,” Modi told Trump. “But despite that, you accepted an invitation to visit India. I welcome you and your delegation.”
Trump announced that India has signed a deal to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced military equipment, including helicopters.
But he has made clear that little progress is expected on the trade front, despite rising tensions between the countries after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium exports. India responded with higher penalties on US agricultural goods and restrictions on medical devices, prompting the US to strip India of its decades-old trade preferences.
Trump told reporters that he’s in “no rush” for a trade agreement with India.
Eyes also will be on whether Trump will criticize Modi over the new citizenship law, which has raised fears that the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. Trump typically refrains from publicly rebuking world leaders for human rights abuses during his overseas trips. He spoke at length on Feb. 24 about measures his administration had taken to combat the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.”
During protests, police fired tear gas and used canes as they charged at the protesters in several districts of New Delhi. The rival groups hurled rocks at each other and set some houses, shops, vehicles and a gasoline pump on fire. Police closed access to two metro stations in the area.
Trump’s comments came during a mega-rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium – part of an elaborate welcome for a president who revels in pomp and pageantry.