India set to finalise long-pending defence deal with US during Trump’s visit


Washington D.C.: India is set to finalise a long-pending defence deal with the United States during President Donald Trump two-day visit to India from February 24, a senior official has told ANI.

Trump will arrive in India on his maiden visit, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Jared Kushner or daughter Ivanka Trump, along with United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouille.

The US President will reach Gujarat’s capital city of Ahmedabad around the noon of February 24 and will address a mammoth crowd of more than 100,000 people which is expected to turn up for an event at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on the lines of the ‘Howdy Modi’ function that was addressed by the US President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston in September last year.

“The fact that a US President is going outside New Delhi to other cities — and if you look at the reception that he will receive — shows the admiration that the people of India have for the United States. And that’s the biggest message that will come back to Washington,” the senior official said.

The President is also likely to visit the Gandhi Ashram in Sabarmati.

The senior official reiterated that POTUS and FLOTUS are most likely to make a quick pit stop at Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, however, the trip is subjected to change, considering the short time frame of the travel.

On 24th February itself, POTUS will arrive in the evening to attend talks in New Delhi.

On Tuesday morning, the US President will first receive a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan as per protocol. Prime minister Modi could then accompany the US leader to the Gandhi Ashram (subjected to time availability if the Sabarmati ashram cannot be visited). The two leaders will then meet at the Hyderabad house and will call on official state meetings.

Both countries are separately working on a limited trade agreement ahead of the trip, after earlier imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s imports. While there have been reports that a possible trade deal appears unlikely, the official conveyed, “the leaders are likely to discuss and possibly finalize not a complete but maybe a ‘part’ of a bilateral trade deal during the visit.”

On Tuesday President Trump will meet with executives of Indian companies — with business interests in the United States during his visit to the capital — at an event organized by the US embassy in New Delhi. The companies expected to be represented at the meeting include the Indian oil and gas company Reliance Industries, Tata Sons, Bharat Forge, Mahindra and Mahindra.

POTUS’s visit will conclude with an early banquet dinner, following which he will depart for Washington.

When asked about speculations of POTUS visiting Pakistan, Afghanistan or any other country in the South Asia region, the official said it’s POTUS’s ‘stand-alone India visit.’ (ANI)