President Trump makes a splash at Ahmedabad Stadium

NEW DELHI – India and the United States will sign two defence deals worth $3 billion in Delhi on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said on Monday.

The defence deals pertain to the sale of 24 MH-60R helicopters for the Indian Navy and six AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Army.

“As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the US looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most-feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made. We make the best and we are dealing now with India,” the US President said while speaking at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad after landing in the Gujarat city earlier.

“I am pleased to announce that tomorrow (Tuesday) our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute, finest, state-of-the-art helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” said the US president.

Washington has already logged $15-18 billion in defence sales to India over the preceding decade, including C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, P-8I Poseidon long range maritime aircraft, M777 ultralight howitzers and CH-47F Chinook and AH-64E Apache helicopters. With equipment worth billions more in the pipeline, Trump stated confidently: “I believe the United States should be India’s premier defence partner and that’s the way it’s working out.”

Ahead of Trump”s visit to India, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 19 cleared the two deals to acquire 24 MH-60 ”Romeo” naval multi-mission helicopters for $2.12 billion and six AH-64E Apache attack choppers for $796 million from the US.

The first batch of six MH-60R helicopters, equipped with multi-mode radars and night-vision capabilities as well as Hellfire missiles, MK-54 torpedoes and precision-kill rockets for potent anti-submarine warfare, would be delivered within a year. The remaining 18 will be delivered within four years.

The six Apaches, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, would be delivered in three and a half years.

India, US working to defend people from terrorism: Trump

India and the US are working to defend their people from the threat of terrorism and boost defence cooperation, US President Donald Trump said on Monday, 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 here, 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 militant organisations and militants that operate there.

The carefully coordinated event in Ahmedabad where both leaders spoke, was part of a two-day spectacle that Modi had promised to deliver for Trump. They stepped on stage to raucous cheers from a crowd that appeared to fill the 110,000-capacity stadium, exchanged hugs and stood side-by-side as the U.S. and Indian national anthems played.

In his own speech, Modi heaped praise upon Trump, repeatedly calling him a friend. “President Trump thinks big,” he said.

“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 always 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.

US President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, February 24

“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.

US-Pakistan Ties

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.

But Trump also kicked off his first trip to India by touching on a major geopolitical flashpoint for his host country by praising the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

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 militant 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.

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.”

Immigration

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.

Trump also touched on India’s cultural diversity and riches as he highlighted the success of its blockbuster movies like DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) and Sholay, and its sporting icons like Sachin Tedulkar and Virat Kohli.

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.

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 awe.A timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of indian culture! Thank you india,” Trump wrote in the message book.

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