NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump has said he is looking forward to his visit to India later this month. His host, prime minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday promised him a memorable welcome on his arrival.
"I look forward to going to India," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, according to a PTI report from Washington on Wednesday.
"He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is a friend of mine. He's a great gentleman," Trump reportedly said in response to a question.
On Tuesday, the White House announced that the US president will travel to Ahmedabad in Gujarat and New Delhi on 24-25 February
Responding to a question on a potential trade deal with India, Trump said that he will do it, if "we can make the right deal."
The president said he had spoken to Modi over the weekend and during the conversation, the prime minister had told him that millions of people would welcome him from the airport to a cricket stadium.
Referring to his New Hampshire rally held a day earlier and was attended by an estimated 40,000-50,000 people, Trump, in a lighter vein, said he might not feel so good with that number.
"When we have 50,000 people, I'm not going to feel so good... we'll have five to seven million people just from the airport to the new stadium. And you know it is the largest stadium in the world. (They are) building it now. It's almost complete and it's the largest in the world," Trump said.
The reference was to an event that Modi and Trump are likely to address together in Gujarat, mirroring an event that the prime minister had addressed in Houston, Texas, in September. The Houston event had drawn 50,000 people, primarily Indian Americans.
Modi on his part described Trump’s visit to India as a “very special one".
“Extremely delighted that @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS will visit India on 24th and 25th February. India will accord a memorable welcome to our esteemed guests. This visit is a very special one and it will go a long way in further cementing India-USA friendship," Modi said in a post on Twitter.
“India and USA share a common commitment to democracy and pluralism. Our nations are cooperating extensively on a wide range of issues. Robust friendship between our nations augurs well not only for our citizens but also for the entire world," the prime minister added.
India and the US on Tuesday announced the visit of Trump and First Lady Melania to India. Trump is the fourth consecutive US president to visit India in the past two decades that have seen the two countries warm up to each other considerably compared to the Cold War years.