Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

Palace and prayer: Donald Trump's second day in India

The US President kicked off the morning by meeting the country's prime minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi

India will buy defence equipment worth more than $3 billion from the United States, President Donald Trump said on Monday, the second day of his two-day visit to the South Asian nation.

The United States was working productively with Pakistan to counter terrorism on its soil, Trump said at a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in capital New Delhi.

New Delhi and Washington are yet to sign a trade deal, but the two countries would begin talks to strike a comprehensive agreement, Mr Trump and Mr Modi said.

Mr Trump began the second day of his first official visit to India with a lavish welcome to New Delhi.

He met President Ram Nath Kovind, his wife Savita Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president's official residence, in New Delhi. Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner also attended the event.

The ornate building features a parade ground, where Mr Trump inspected Indian troops.

US first lady, Melania Trump, is expected to visit Sarvodaya Co-Ed Senior Secondary School later on Tuesday.

Mr Trump's first day in India started with a rally called "Namaste Trump," which attracted a crowd of more than 125,000 people. Both Mr Modi and Mr Trump addressed the audience at a newly built cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

As Mr Trump was being feted by Mr Modi in the western Indian city on Monday, Hindu nationalist and communist groups held pro and anti-US street demonstrations in the capital.

One police officer was killed in the violence, police officer Anuj Kumar said. Eleven officers were injured when they were hit by rocks while trying to separate rival groups, the New Delhi police control room said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said three protesters were also killed during clashes in several parts of New Delhi. The report has not yet been confirmed by police.

A group of Hindu nationalists held a prayer meeting in which they put a vermilion mark on an image of Mr Trump on a poster, blessing him, while a priest chanted Hindu hymns wishing Mr Trump success in his efforts to strengthen ties with India.

Vishnu Gupta, president of Hindu Sena, said “through a fire ritual we are invoking God to bless America and India".

He said he wanted Mr Trump and Mr Modi to fight the spread of terrorism.

Elsewhere in New Delhi, dozens of supporters of the Communist Party of India carried a banner bearing the message: “Trump go back.”

Anti-Trump street demonstrations also broke out in the cities of Gawahati in the north-east, Kolkata in the east and Hyderabad in the south.

US dairy farmers, distillers and drugmakers have been eager to break into India, the world’s seventh-largest economy, but talks between Washington and New Delhi appeared fizzle out.

Still, the country's leaders are scheduled to announce agreements at a news conference on Tuesday, capping off Mr Trump’s visit.

Updated: February 25, 2020 01:12 PM

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