WASHINGTON: The White House on Monday formally announced that US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit India on February 24-25.
“The President and The First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modi’s home state of Gujarat and played such an important role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and leadership of the Indian independence movement,” a White House release said, adding that during a phone call over the weekend, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed the trip will “further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people.”
This will be Trump’s first visit to India as President and one of his rare solo bilateral visits with the First Lady. The White House made no mention of a widely-expected stopover at Taj Mahal, an enduring symbol of love and togetherness that has been so appealing to Trump in the past that he named one of properties (Trump Tajmahal in Atlantic City) after it.
It was however confirmed that the President will visit Ahmedabad, where plans are afoot to host a rousing “Kem Cho, Trump!” (Howdy Trump) rally to return the gesture of the Trump administration allowing the Howdy Modi fiesta in Houston- the largest rally ever by a foreign leader on US soil. The two leaders are expected to inaugurate the Motera Stadium, one of the world’s largest sports arenas with a capacity of 110,000, although local reports suggest it will be a race against time to complete it by February 25.
The more likely backdrop for a walkthrough and informal talks will be the Sabarmati waterfront, one of Modi’s signature achievements in his home state.
Besides the adrenalin of a India-sized rally that is expected to wow Trump, who loves large adoring crowds, the two sides are also expected to ink a trade deal and agreements aimed at Indian purchase of US armaments, including a $2bn NASAMS air defense system and $2.6bn naval helicopter deal.
India is also ramping up energy purchase from the US that has has gone from zero a decade ago to $6bn annually currently, and is expected to touch $10bn in the next couple of years.


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