Warm welcome as Donald Trump touches down in India
The president will visit the Taj Mahal during his visit.
US President Donald Trump received a warm welcome as he arrived for a whirlwind 36-hour visit to India, where thousands of people gathered for a mega-rally in his honour.
Air Force One touched down in Ahmedabad in western India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi embraced the visiting president.
Mr Trump’s motorcade slowly drove down streets lined with hundreds of thousands of onlookers.
First stop was a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi. Mr Trump donned a prayer shawl and took off his shoes before walking through the humble ashram. He inspected the loom used by the famed pacifist and looked at statues of monkeys representing Gandhi’s mantra of “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil”.
He will also attend a rally at the world’s second-largest stadium and visit the famed Taj Mahal.
The sun-baked city of Ahmedabad jostled with activity the day before Mr Trump’s arrival as workers cleaned roads, planted flowers and hoisted hundreds of billboards featuring the president and first lady Melania Trump.
Mr Trump’s motorcade will travel amid cheers from a battery of carefully picked and vetted Modi loyalists and workers from his Bharatiya Janata Party who will stand for hours alongside the neatly manicured 14-mile stretch of road to give the president a grand welcome on his way to the Sardar Patel Stadium.
Tens of thousands of police officers will be on hand to keep security tight and a new wall has been constructed in front of a slum, apparently to hide it from presidential passers-by.
“I hear it’s going to be a big event. Some people say the biggest event they’ve ever had in India,” Mr Trump said before he left Washington.
“That’s what the prime minister told me – this will be the biggest event they’ve ever had.”
Mr Trump’s foreign visits have typically been light on sightseeing, but this time the president and Mrs Trump are to visit the Taj Mahal.
The visit comes at a crucial moment for Mr Modi, a fellow populist, who has presided over a steep economic downturn and unfulfilled campaign promises about job creation.
Mr Trump will on Tuesday conclude his visit to India with a day in New Delhi, complete with a gala dinner and meetings with Mr Modi over stalled trade talks between the two nations.
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