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Trump sounds bugle for new chapter in India-US ties

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Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Feb 24, 2020-

President Donald Trump on Monday sounded the bugle for an unprecedented strategic partnership between the US and India, with a commitment to fight Islamist terrorism and its ideology together.

Drawing a resounding applause from around 1,25,000 people at the world’s biggest cricket stadium at Motera, President Trump said that he had come all the way around the world covering 8,000 miles because “America loves India, America respects India and it always remain a loyal friend to the Indian people. From this day on, India will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

Both the countries, he said, had been hurt by Islamist terrorism and are united in defending citizens from its threat. “Our borders will always be closed to terrorists and extremists. Anyone who threatens our security, will pay a big price,” he said amidst a loud cheer.

Trump boasted about his government’s accomplishments against Islamist terrorism. “Under my administration we unleashed the full power of American military on bloodthirsty killers of ISIS. Today ISIS’ territorial caliphate is 100 per cent destroyed. Monster Al Baghdadi is dead,” he said.

Without mentioning Jammu & Kashmir which was reorganised and whose special status was withdrawn by the Modi government last year inviting censure from Democrats in the US, President Trump made an oblique comment seemingly in support of India. “Every nation has a right to exercise its sovereignty and secure its borders,” he said. Incidentally, this has been the official line of India in response to the criticism in the US and negative campaign run by Pakistan.

However, he also indicated that the US was keen on taking Pakistan along for the sake of security. “For this reason, my administration is working positively with Pakistan. Our relationship with Pakistan is a good one. There are big signs of progress for greater stability and peace of all the nations in South Asia,” he said.

The President announced that India and the US were going to expand their defence cooperation as major defence partners. He pointed out that India and the US have recently conducted the ‘Tiger Trio’ — sea, air and military joint exercise in that direction.

“We make the best weapons. We will sell India the best defence systems and secure the Indo-Pacific for our children and for many generations to come,” he asserted.

During his almost half-hour speech, President Trump showed deep admiration for Indian democracy, its values and diversity, spiritual, cultural and social icons and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, evoking exceptional applause from his audience. Trump referred to icons like Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood classic Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, and India’s moon mission ‘Chandrayaan’, among many other things.

President Trump exalted Prime Minister Modi’s rise from a humble background in Gujarat to the highest position in New Delhi. “It is incredible moving story. Everybody loves him, but I tell you, he is very tough,” he said amidst echoes of “Modi, Modi” chants in the air. He expressed admiration for the landslide victory with which Modi returned to power in the 2019 general election.

Recalling that Modi as a young man had worked as a tea-seller, Trump said that his example demonstrated that there was “limitless promise in this great nation.”

With hard work, India can accomplish anything it wants, he said. “We are very, very proud,” he said, adding that the two countries shared common philosophical foundations and outlook for democracy, liberty and equality.

India, he said, was inspiring as a “democratic country, peaceful country, towering country, a great, free country.” These values, he said, made all the difference as against those who exercise “coercion, intimidation and aggression”.

President Trump said this is why India is “accomplished and unrivalled” and this is why India and the US shared a “natural, beautiful and enduring friendship”.  (Agency)

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