US President Donald Trump on Sunday left for his maiden visit to India for talks with the top Indian leadership. Before taking the 17-hour flight to India, Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi his “friend”. ‘Biggest event’ “I look forward to being with the people of India… I get along very well with PM Modi. He is a friend of mine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “I had committed to this trip long time ago. I hear it’s going to be a big event...the biggest event they ever had in India. That’s what the Prime Minister told me. It’s going to be very exciting,” Trump said. Trump, who is seeking re-election in the US presidential elections in November, routinely gets the biggest crowds of any candidate in the US presidential race, ranging up to 20,000 or so, and he has been grudgingly admiring of Modi’s ability to get a bigger crowd than him. “Here’s my problem,” Trump told a large crowd of supporters in Colorado last week. “We have a packed house. We have thousands of people who couldn’t get in.
It’s going to look like peanuts from now on.” In India, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to greet Trump in a massive road show in Ahmedabad before he arrives at the newly-built Motera cricket stadium, which has a capacity of over 100,000 people, for the ‘Namaste Trump’ event. The event will be a larger version of the Howdy Modi rally that they jointly appeared at in Houston to a crowd of 50,000 Indian Americans last year. Trump will arrive around noon in Ahmedabad for a nearly 36-hour-long visit. Trade deal Modi is expected to receive him at the airport. In their talks on Tuesday, Trump and Modi are likely to focus on a wide variety of bilateral and regional issues including trade and investment, defence and security, counter-terrorism, energy security, religious freedom, proposed peace deal with Taliban in Afghanistan and situation in the Indo-Pacific, according to Indian and US officials. After concluding trade deals with China and Canada and Mexico, Trump would like to reach a similar agreement with India to open more markets for American goods, but progress has been slow and Trump in recent days has said such a pact is more likely after the US election. India and the US have hit each other with retaliatory tariffs. Over the past month they have engaged in intense negotiations to produce a mini-trade deal, but officials in both countries say it remains elusive. The two sides have been arguing over US demands for access to India’s huge poultry and dairy markets, Indian price controls on medical devices such as stents and stringent local data storage rules that US technology firms say will raise the costs of doing business. India has sought restoration of trade concessions that Trump withdrew in 2019 and greater access to US markets for its pharmaceutical and farm products. “We’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there, or maybe we’ll slow it down. We’ll do it after the election,” Trump said at an event on Thursday in Las Vegas. Security arrangements Traffic in some parts of the national capital will be affected on Monday due to security measures put in place, officials said. The US president will be accompanied by First Lady Melania, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and the top brass of his administration. Agra DM Prabhu N Singh said Trump is scheduled to arrive at the Taj Mahal complex at 5:15 pm and will spend about an hour there. “People can visit the Taj in the morning but tickets will be issued till 11:30 am, and by noon or so the premises will be cleared of visitors in view of the high security arrangements for President Trump’s visit,” he said.