‘US Admn working with Pak to crackdown on terror outfits’
New history being created, says Modi
AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI, Feb 24: India and the US are working to defend their people from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, boost defence cooperation and are negotiating a “fantastic” trade deal, US President Donald Trump said today, asserting that his country loves India and will remain its “loyal” friend.
In an address to a huge cheering crowd at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, the US President, who arrived with his wife Melania and was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the airport, said his administration is working in a “very positive” way with Pakistan to crackdown on the terrorist organisations and militants that operate there.
Ahead of his official delegation-level talks with Modi in the national capital tomorrow, Trump also announced that his country will sign defence deals worth USD 3 billion and asserted that the US looks forward to providing India with some of the “best and most feared military equipment on the planet”.
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While the chemistry between Modi and Trump was fully evident as the two leaders shared many hugs and heaped praise on each other in front of nearly 1,00,000-strong enthusiastic crowd at the new-look Motera stadium in the Prime Minister’s home State, the traditional and colourful welcome left the US President impressive.
“Five months ago, the US welcomed your PM at a giant football stadium, and you welcomed us at the world’s largest cricket stadium. Thank you for spectacular welcome. We will remember this remarkable hospitality forever”, Trump said.
Known for his fondness to tweet, Trump also took to Twitter and tweeted messages in Hindi, including one expressing eagerness to visit India, to which Modi responded by tweeting the Sanskrit phrase, “Atithi Devo Bhava (guest is God)”.
During the first leg of his two-day trip, Trump talked about India’s rich culture and extraordinary diversity repeatedly.
India is always admired around the earth as the place where millions of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Jews worship side by side in harmony as it has great tradition of embracing individual freedom, rule of law, dignity of every human being, Trump said.
“The first Lady and I have travelled 8000 mile around the globe to deliver the message to all citizens across this nation — America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be a faithful and loyal friend to the Indian people,” Trump said at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in the presence of Modi, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner besides top officials of the US administration.
During his nearly 30 minutes long speech, Trump also said, “while our nations have many differences, they are both defined and propelled by a fundamental truth — the truth that all of us are blessed with divine light and every person is endowed with a sacred soul” and quoted Swami Vivekanand.
Earlier, thousands of people greeted Trump and his family as the presidential cavalcade criss-crossed the city roads leading first to Sabarmati Ashram and from there to Motera stadium.
In his address, the US president heaped praises on Modi, saying the Prime Minister is a “living proof” of what an Indian can achieve with hard work as Trump referred to his humble background as a tea-seller.
On the Indo-US trade negotiations, Trump said both countries are working on a “fantastic trade” deal, and described Modi as a “tough negotiator”.
Referring to the threat of terrorism, the US President said every nation has the right to secure and control its borders and that the US and India are committed to work together to stop terrorists and to fight their ideology.
“For this reason, since taking office, my administration is working in a very positive way with Pakistan to crackdown on the terrorist organisations and militants that operate on the Pakistani border,” he added.
“Our relationship with Pakistan is a very good one. Thanks to these efforts, we are beginning to see signs of big progress with Pakistan and we are hopeful for reduced tensions, greater stability and the future of harmony for all of the nations of South Asia,” the US president said.
He said India has an important role to play for shaping a better future as it takes on greater responsibility for solving problems and promote peace throughout this “incredible region”.
“The US and India are also firmly united in our iron-clad resolve to defend our citizens from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Both of our countries have been hurt by the pain and turmoil of terrorism and that terrorism brings,” said Trump.
“Under my administration we unleashed the full power of the military on blood-thirsty killers of ISIS in Iraq and in Syria. Today the ISIS territorial caliphate has been 100 per cent destroyed and the monster known as Al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS, is dead.
Without naming any country, Trump said both the US and India will work towards a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and even mentioned about first ever tri-services exercises.
“As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the US looks forward to providing India the best and feared equipment on the planet,” he said.
“India and US have natural and enduring friendship,” Trump said, adding, “We are quickly revitalising our alliances all around world.”
On the issue of immigration, Trump said the US has made it clear that while his country will always welcome newcomers who share its values and love its people, its borders will always be closed to terrorists, terrorism and to any form of extremism.
“That is why we have taken historic steps to improve screening and vetting applications for entry and we are working to ensure that anyone who threatens the security of our citizens are denied admission and will play a very very big price,” he said.
On his part, Modi welcomed Trump to “world’s largest democracy” and said a “new history” was being created.
Modi said ties between India and the US are no longer just another partnership but have touched far greater heights.
Visit of President Trump to India with his family shows strong ties between India and the US, the prime minister added.
Modi also praised Trump’s leadership in containing terrorism.
Trump said as the world’s largest economy, India gives hope to all humanity and has become an economic giant.
“There is a difference between a nation that rises by coercion and one that rises by setting its people free — that is India. India and the US have natural and enduring friendship,” he said.
The US President also compliment the Indian government for its achievement in diverse areas including in laying of roads, providing cooking fuel to over 70 million households and lifting 12 Indians out of extreme poverty every single day.
“In single decade, India has lifted 270 million people out of poverty. Under Prime Minister Modi, for the first time in history, every village in India now has access to electricity,” said Trump.
Reading out the Modi Government’s achievements, Trump said, “320 million more Indians are right now connected to the internet, the pace of highway construction has more than doubled, over 70 million more households have access to cooking fuel, 600 million people have access to basic sanitation and incredibly, 12 Indian citizens are lifted out of extreme poverty every single minute of every single day.”
He said India will soon have the biggest middle class anywhere in the world and within less than 10 years extreme poverty in the country is projected to completely disappear.
“The potential for India is absolutely incredible. India’s rise as a prosperous and independent nation is an example for every nation all over the world and one of the most outstanding achievements of our century.
“It is all the more inspiring because you have done it as a democratic country, you have done it as a peaceful country, you have done it as a tolerant country,” he said.
In a tweet after the event Trump said:”Our two national constitutions both begin with the same three beautiful words: ‘We the people.’ That means that in America and India alike, we honour, respect, trust, empower, and fight for the citizens we proudly serve!”
Later, Trump and Melania visted the Taj Mahal in Agra before arriving in New Delhi.
“The Taj Mahal inspires all. A timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of indian culture! Thank you india,” Trump wrote in the message book.
Describing India and the US as “natural partners”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called President Donald Trump a “special friend” of India and said his visit to this country has created a “new history” in Indo-US relations.
Addressing the ‘Namaste Trump’ event, dubbed as the world’s biggest, Modi underscored the significance of the President’s visit to India at the turn of a new decade, describing it as a “big occasion”.
The Prime Minister also asserted that “new India” has brought many new opportunities for a “resurgent America”.
With Trump by his side, Modi said “America’s commitment to defeating terrorism and the leadership of President Trump has served humanity and, therefore, I believe that a special leader like President Trump and a special friend of India coming to India at the beginning of this decade is a big occasion”.
He also hailed Trump’s visit to India as a “new chapter” in the historic Indo-US relations and added their ties is no longer just another partnership but a far greater and closer relationship.
Welcoming the President, Modi said a “new history” is being created and asserted that foundations of new alignments, challenges, opportunities and changes are being laid.
“India and the US relations and cooperation will play an important role in deciding the course of world in the 21st century. I am of the categorical view that India and the US are natural partners,” he told an estimated one lakh-strong audience who broke into cheers frequently.
Underlining the strong ties between the two nations, Modi said the US is now India’s largest trading partner and the Indian military is involved in its biggest war exercise with the US.
Trump’s visit to India at the turn of the new decade is a big occasion, he said.
“In this decade of the 21st century, ‘new India’ has also brought many new opportunities for a ‘resurgent America’. In every area of development, both countries have much to gain.”
“Increasing manufacturing in India, expanding infrastructure, will bring new possibilities for America. In this era of Industry 4.0, the expansion of the digital economy in India will create many investment opportunities for the US as well,” Modi said.
Industry 4.0 has been defined as a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.
Modi also said that we are inspired by a long-term vision, not just short term considerations.
“Our bilateral relations will grow, our economic partnership will expand, our digital cooperation will increase,” he said.
The Indo-US ties are no longer just another partnership but have touched far greater heights, and the Trump’s trip with his family shows this, Modi said.
“Welcome to world’s biggest democracy,” the prime minister said.
Modi said President Trump’s visit is a new chapter in the relations between India and America. “A chapter that will become a new document of progress and prosperity of the people of America and India,” he added.
There is so much that the two countries share, Modi said.
He said the two countries also share a spirit of enterprise and innovation, shared opportunities and challenges and shared hopes and aspirations.
The biggest strength between two people or nations is trust, Modi said while quoting an old adage that “friendship is where trust is unshakable”.
In the last few years, trust between the US and India has strengthened further and has reached historic levels.
Modi said today 130 crore Indians are jointly building a ‘new India’.
“Our youth power is full of aspirations. Setting big goals, achieving them is becoming the hallmark of new India today,” he said.
Modi noted that India not only has the world record of sending the maximum number of satellites simultaneously, but also is making the world record by doing the fastest financial inclusion.
“Today the country with which India has the most extensive research and development partnership is America,” he said.
Referring to military ties, the prime minister said the two countries have participated in a number of bilateral military exercises.
“We can make an effective contribution not only in the Indo-Pacific Region, but in the peace, progress and security of the whole world,” he said.
Referring to the key decisions taken by his government in the recent past, Modi said not only 1,500 obsolete laws have been scrapped to clean up the statute books, new legislations have been enacted to empower the society.
“Be it the rights of transgender persons, making law against (the practice of) triple talaq to respect Muslim women, extending priority to the disabled, giving 26 weeks of paid maternity leave — many such rights have been extended to various sections of the society,” he added.
Earlier, in Ahmedabad Trump landed here today for his first visit to India as US President to a grand welcome by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thousands of people who lined the streets and packed into the Motera stadium to say “Namaste Trump”.
There were tableaux, folk dancers and musicians rolling out the cultural tapestry that is India, at the airport, on the way and at the spanking new cricket stadium where about 100,000 people waited patiently since early in the morning to hear the two leaders speak.
Air Force One carrying Trump, his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner landed at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport here at 11.37 am, officials said. It was scheduled to land at 11.40 am.
Trump stepped out wearing a black suit and a buttercup yellow tie while the first lady was in a white jumpsuit by French-American costume designer Herve Pierre. In a hat tip to Indian textiles, the jumpsuit was paired with a green silk with gold thread embroidery discovered by the designer in an early 20th century Indian textile documents given to him by his friends.
Modi, who reached Ahmedabad about an hour before Trump did, welcomed Trump and the US first lady at the airport, hugging the president and warmly shaking hands with Melania.
The first stop in the Trump visit was the Sabarmati Ashram, home to Mahatma Gandhi between 1917 and 1930 during India’s freedom struggle.
The 22-km ‘India roadshow’ began as the cavalcade, with the US president’s gleaming black car that has earned the moniker ‘The Beast’, moved out of the airport towards the Ashram and then to stadium. About 50 stages were set up on the way, showcasing dance groups and singers from different parts of the country.
Over 10,000 police personnel, besides officials of the United States Secret Service, and personnel of the National Security Guards (NSG) and the Special Protection Group (SPG) were deployed for the high profile visit.
From colour and pageantry to quieter and reflective, the mood shifted somewhat at the Sabarmati Ashram where the US president and the first lady spent about 15 minutes.
Modi, who reached the Ashram a few minutes before the visiting dignitaries, showed the Trumps ‘Hriday Kunj’, a room inside the Ashram where Gandhi and his wife Kasturba lived.
Modi explained the importance of the place in India’s freedom struggle.
Trump and Melania tried their hands on the khadi spinning wheel, also known as the ‘charkha’.
“To my great friend Prime Minister Modi – Thank you for this wonderful visit,” Trump wrote in the visitors book. It was also signed by Melania.
After the Ashram, Trump and Modi resumed their roadshow till Motera stadium, the stage for the “Namaste Trump” event that saw a cultural extravaganza and addresses by the two leaders.
The stadium was packed to the rafters, a sea of colour and white with many in the crowd wearing white caps.
Billboards with slogans hailing Indo-US relations and giant cutouts of Trump and Modi as well as photographs of the two leaders waving at the crowd during the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston last year. Also put up along the road were replicas of historic places in Gujarat.
The seventh US President to visit India, Trump on Sunday retweeted a video in which his face was superimposed on the hit Indian movie-character “Baahubali”, showing him as a great saviour.
Meanwhile, a A marble replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s “three wise monkeys” statue, a copy of his Talisman or a piece of wisdom as well as a special edition of his autobiography were among the items gifted to US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania during their visit to the Sabarmati Ashram here on Monday.
Modi gifted the iconic statue of “three wise monkeys”, representing the message “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil,” to Trump and his wife on behalf of the Indian Government.
The sculpture was a replica of the statue that was gifted to Gandhi by a Japanese monk way back in 1933, a trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram said.
While presenting the statue, Modi explained the message behind the gesture of the three monkeys in detail, which Trump and the US First Lady listened in rapt attention.
A trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram, Kartikeya Sarabhai, said the ashram also gifted America’s first couple Gandhi’s engraved Talisman, which he wrote in August 1947, guiding people in public life to make a decision while recalling the face of the poorest of the poor.
The message of the Talisman is: “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much, recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man/woman whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her.
“Will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then your self will melt away.”
“We also gifted them a special edition of Gandhi’s autobiography, ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’, as well as a pencil drawing of a rare photograph of the Mahatma when he was coming out of 10, Downing Street (London),” Sarabhai said.
The ashram was home to Gandhi between 1917 and 1930 during India’s freedom struggle. It was from here that he launched the Dandi yatra, or Salt March, against the British rule.
During their visit, Trump and his wife also took interest in ‘charkha’ (spinning wheel), a replica of which was also gifted to them by the Ashram.
An ashram inmate explained to the visiting dignitaries how the charkha works.
“They wanted to understand how the charkha works and even expressed surprise to see that the thread woven on it gets stronger with each spinning of charkha,” the woman who guided them said.
The then duo tried their hands at the charkha.
Besides the talisman and Gandhi’s autobiography, the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust gifted Trump and Melania three handspun khesh (a form of fabric) made up of khadi that is inspired by a sari of Gandhi’s wife Kasturba Gandhi, a booklet containing 150 quotes of the Mahatma, printed on khadi paper, an official of the trust said.
The exclusive pencil sketch encased in a frame is recreated from a rare studio photograph of Gandhi that was taken in London at the request of Lord Irwin in 1931, the official said.
Also, the talisman gifted to the Trumps was printed on khadi (hand-woven cloth) and encased in a frame, while the wooden charkha was packed in a transparent box,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will not attend the official banquet being hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind in honour of US President Donald Trump on February 25, sources said.
Singh had earlier accepted the invite but expressed his inability to attend the same on Monday.
He has conveyed his regret to the President’s office for not being able to attend the banquet, sources close to Singh said.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, will also not attend the official banquet as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has not been invited.
She is also the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party.
The opposition Congress is peeved at the Modi Government’s move to not allow its top leaders a meeting with the visiting US President, as has been the tradition.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has said he will not attend the President’s banquet as a mark of protest over the party’s top leaders not being extended an invitation.
This will probably be the first time that leaders of the principal opposition will miss the official banquet in honour of a visiting head of state and will not hold separate discussions, Congress leaders said. (PTI)
Prez recalls Sholay, DDLJ
Using Bollywood to strike a chord with movie-loving Indians, US President Donald Trump today hailed the “genius” of the Hindi film industry and recalled two all-time favourites, “Sholay” and “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (DDLJ).
Addressing the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at the Motera Stadium here, the US president said people “take great joy” in watching Bollywood films and understanding Indian culture through them.
“This is the country that produces nearly 2,000 movies a year from the hub of genius and creativity known as Bollywood,” he told the gathering of about 100,000 people packed into the stadium.
“All over the planet people take great joy in scenes of bhangra, music and dance, romance and drama, and classic Indian films like ‘DDLJ’ and ‘Sholay’,” Trump said, referring to two of the biggest hits in Bollywood history. (PTI)