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Trump and Modi’s bonhomie in focus

US President Donald Trump is greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with first lady Melania Trump, at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad on Monday. The two leaders shared half a dozen hugs during the course of the day.  (Photo: AP)Premium
US President Donald Trump is greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with first lady Melania Trump, at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad on Monday. The two leaders shared half a dozen hugs during the course of the day. (Photo: AP)

  • Trump calls Modi his friend, says India’s unity an inspiration to the world
  • The friendship was on display between the two leaders as they shared half a dozen hugs during the course of the day

Friendship between the leaders of the United States of America and India was in focus on Monday at the “Namaste Trump" event as US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi his “friend" while addressing a cricket stadium filled with more than 100,000 people in Ahmedabad.

India’s unity is an inspiration to the world, Trump said, adding that the country holds a special place in his heart.

“Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to an exceptional leader, a great champion of India, a man who works night and day for his country, and a man I am proud to call my true friend: Prime Minister Modi," Trump said as he started his speech.

“The First Lady and I have just travelled 8,000 miles around the globe to deliver a message to every citizen across this nation: America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people. You have done a great honour to the American people. Melania and my family, we will always remember this remarkable hospitality. We will remember it forever. From this day on, India will always hold a very special place in our hearts," he said.

The friendship was on display between the two leaders as they shared half a dozen hugs during the course of the day. The last hug, just before getting off from the stage at Motera stadium, was followed by a loud cheer from the 125,000 people in attendance at the world’s largest cricket stadium. During his speech, Trump mentioned his friendship with Modi and India on at least seven occasions. In the run-up to Trump’s visit, the two leaders have spoken about their friendship.

The event comes five months after Trump hosted Modi in Houston in Texas where a similar event was held in a football stadium.

The US president said that India’s rise as a prosperous, independent nation is an example to every nation all over the world and one of the most outstanding achievements of our century to do so in a democratic country.

“It is your faith in the strength of a free society, your confidence in your own people, your trust in your own citizens, and your respect for the dignity of every person that makes the United States and India such a natural, beautiful, enduring friendship," he said.

The 4 million Indian Americans living in the US were “wonderful friends, colleagues, neighbours and truly spectacular people."

Trump said the two countries are also working closely together on the future of space exploration. “You are making impressive strides with your exciting Chandrayaan lunar programme. It is moving along rapidly, far ahead of schedule, and America looks forward to expanding our space cooperation with India as you push even further. You are pushing the limits, and that’s a great thing, including in realm of human spaceflight. The United States and India will be friends and partners on our voyage into the stars and into space," he said.

“However, standing before all of you today, I know that true strength of India is not found in its textbooks, its landmarks or its landscapes. The true strength of India is found in 125,000 beating hearts in this stadium and the millions and millions of people who have seen and witnessed our great friendship and admiration today. It is all found in the soul and the spirit of the Indian people," Trump said.

The US president pointed to the diversity in the country with a number of religions, languages spoken, and number of states. “Yet you have always stood strong as one great Indian nation. Your unity is an inspiration to the world," he said.

In just 70 years India had become an economic giant, Trump said and stressed on the progress made in providing electricity, internet connections, and gas and the steps taken to remove poverty.

“There is all the difference in the world between a nation that seeks power through coercion, intimidation, and aggression, and a nation that rises by setting its people free and unleashing them to chase their dreams. And that is India. This is why India’s accomplishment over the last 70 years is completely unrivaled no matter where you go," Trump said.

Ahmedabad was the first stop in President’s Trump’s 36-hour-visit to India.

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