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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Donald Trump says he will visit India ‘at some point’

Trump has said before he would like to go to India, but took a pass on a specific invitation extended to him in 2018 to attend the Republic Day parade as chief guest.

world Updated: Nov 09, 2019 09:13 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump departs for travel to Georgia from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, US.
US President Donald Trump departs for travel to Georgia from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, US. (REUTERS)
         

US President Donald Trump said Friday he will visit India “at some point” at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“He wants me to go there,” Trump said to reporters about a standing invitation from Modi, who he said, is a “very good friend”.

“I will be going at some point to India,” he added.

There are no dates and a visit does not appear to be on the cards any time soon. But there has been some speculation that the American president could travel to India to sign a trade deal if and when trade negotiators from the two countries were able to resolve the longstanding differences and had a deal ready to be initialed.

Both sides are optimistic of a deal, as conveyed by Trump and Modi at their meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in September, and talks are under way.

Trump has said before he would like to go to India, but took a pass on a specific invitation extended to him in 2018 to attend the Republic Day parade as chief guest. The White House had cited “scheduling constraints” as the reason. It was too close to the annual State of the Union address, it was felt.

But President Barack Obama had attended the Republic Day parade as chief guest in 2015, becoming the first American president to do so, shifting around the State of the Union speech, which does not really have a fixed date.

Taking questions from reporters, the president spoke about the “Howdy, Modi” rally he had addressed in Houston with Prime Minister Modi in September and recalled the crowd size of 50,000, which has stayed with him.

Asked about the state of bilateral ties, Trump said, “we have lots of things happening with India. We have a very good relationship with India.”

The trade talks were clearly not on the president’s mind Friday, as he took questions from reporters, most of which were about the ongoing impeachment inquiry that are scheduled to enter a new phase of open, public hearing of witnesses next week.