Trump’s India visit moves from pomp to trade, military talks

Trump's India visit moves from pomp to trade, military talks
U.S. President Donald Trump reviews a guard of honor during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Indian Presidential Palace, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW DELHI (AP) — President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to India delved into substance Tuesday after opening with a heavy dose of pomp and pageantry, even as few concrete accomplishments were expected from the whirlwind trip.

Trump kicked off his second day on the subcontinent with an elaborate outdoor welcome ceremony in front of the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi.

The president’s armored car, nicknamed “The Beast,” was welcomed with cannon fire as it passed through the palace gates, accompanied by a parade of red-uniformed guards on horseback. The ceremony included hundreds of military officials, marching with instruments and swords, as well as an official greeting by India’s president and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump and Modi are expected to talk trade and other issues Tuesday as part of a jam-packed day in the nation’s capital that will include a joint statement with Modi, meetings with business leaders and embassy officials, a visit to a memorial to independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, a news conference and an opulent state dinner before Trump boards his flight back to the U.S.

But Trump has made clear that little progress is expected on the trade front, despite rising tensions between the countries since the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium exports. India responded with higher penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices, prompting the U.S. to remove India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

While the issue is expected to be discussed, Trump told reporters Monday that he was in “no rush” for progress as the two nations.

Eyes also will be on whether Trump criticizes Modi over a new citizenship law that provides a fast track to naturalization for some migrants who entered the country illegally while fleeing religious persecution, but excludes Muslims, raising fears that the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. Trump has typically refrained from publicly rebuking world leaders for human rights abuses during his overseas trips and on Monday spoke at length about measures his administration had taken to combat the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump’s comments came during a mega-rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium — part of an elaborate welcome for a president who revels in pomp and pageantry.

Everywhere he went, Trump was greeted by thousands of cheering Indian citizens, troops of traditional dancers and roadways lined with posters and billboards celebrating his visit. Trump and first lady Melania Trump also took part in a stunning sunset tour of the famed Taj Mahal.

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