Trump says Modi expects massive crowds during India visit

Politics

A man takes a selfie with portraits of U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi painted on a wall ahead of Trump’s visit, in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Trump is scheduled to visit the city during his Feb. 24-25 India trip. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says that India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expecting to turn out massive crowds for the president when he visits next week.

Trump will be in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat to attend an event called “Namaste Trump,” which translates to “Greetings, Trump,” at a cricket stadium.

Trump pivoted on a question about trade with India to say how much he likes Modi, adding that the prime minister expects some 7 million people to turn out for him between the airport and the cricket stadium.

“The stadium I understand is sort of semi under construction, but it’s going to be the largest stadium in the world, so it’s going to be very exciting,” Trump told reporters.

In preparation for Trump’s visit, a half-kilometer (1,640-foot) brick wall has been hastily erected, with critics saying it was built to block the view of a slum area inhabited by more than 2,000 people.

Senior government official Bijal Patel said the wall was built “for security reasons” and not to conceal the slum.

As for trade, Trump played down expectations for any major breakthroughs next week, saying, “I’m really saving the big deal for later on. I don’t know if it will be done before the election, but we’ll have a very big deal with India.”

Trade tensions between the two countries have escalated since the Trump administration levied tariffs on steel and aluminum from India.

India responded with higher tariffs on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices, prompting the U.S. to retaliate by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

The U.S. runs a trade deficit with India of about $25 billion, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. India has relatively high tariff rates, especially in agriculture, and the Trump administration has been critical of that deficit, accusing India of unfair trading practices.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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