Asia-Pacific

'The guest is like God': Narendra Modi greets Donald Trump in India

Narendra Modi tweeted "Welcome to India @realDonaldTrump" Source: Twitter

US President Donald Trump has arrived in India to a rapturous welcome at the start of a visit both nations hope will reset relations after a trade spat.

US President Donald Trump has landed in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad to a raucous reception at the start of a visit during which the two sides will aim to reset relations that have been buffeted by a trade spat.

India and the United States have built close political and security ties and Mr Trump's two-day trip is a sign of their converging interests, officials say, including a way to counter China's rise as a superpower.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the airport to greet Mr Trump and his wife, Melania, as they stepped off Air Force One.

Folk dancers carrying colourful umbrellas danced alongside the red carpet as drummers, trumpeters and other musicians performed on the airport grounds to welcome the US delegation.

Hopes that the world's two largest democracies could negotiate a "confidence-building" deal in time for Mr Trump's arrival have faded in recent days as differences over agriculture, medical devices, digital trade and proposed new tariffs fester, according to business groups.

US concerns that led last year to the suspension of India's tariff-free access for some $US5.6 billion in exports under the 1970s-era Generalised System of Preferences still remain, US officials say.

But Mr Modi, who has built a personal rapport with Mr Trump, is pulling out the stops for Mr Trump's visit even though prospects for even a limited trade deal were slim.

The duo together garlanded an image of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi after stopping briefly to visit his former home, Sabarmati Ashram.

Mr Trump will be feted at a huge reception in a 110,000-seat cricket stadium in the city which is the political home of Mr Modi.

A huge crowd has filled the stadium, claimed to be the world's biggest cricket ground.

In the stadium, many people were wearing customised white hats saying "Namaste (Greetings) Trump", while workers handed out thousands of cardboard masks of the US president.

There was much action on Twitter.
There was much action on Twitter.
Twitter

"We are ready to come to India, we are on our way, we will be meeting everyone in a few hours," Mr Trump tweeted in the Hindi language before he landed.

Mr Modi tweeted an old Indian saying in response: "The guest is God".

From Ahmedabad, Mr Trump heads to Agra for a sunset visit to the iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum, before landing in New Delhi for a summit with Indian officials and business leaders.

The two sides have been arguing over US demands for access to India's poultry and dairy markets, Indian price controls on medical devices such as stents and stringent local data storage rules that US technology firms say will raise the cost of doing business.

A protester shouts slogans after being detained by police during a protest against US President Donald Trump during his India visit.
A protester shouts slogans after being detained by police during a protest against US President Donald Trump during his India visit.
AP

Mr Modi's government has sought restoration of trade concessions that Mr Trump withdrew in 2019 and greater access to US markets for its pharmaceutical and farm products.

The two countries are expected to announce defence deals including an Indian navy plan to buy helicopters from Lockheed Martin worth $2.6 billion.

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