Mega rally as Trump begins first official India visit

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump arrived in India on Monday for a lightning visit featuring a huge rally at the world's biggest cricket stadium and other high-profile photo opportunities, but likely short on concrete achievements.

Trade tensions have grown between the world's two biggest democracies as Trump's "America First" drive collides with fellow protectionist strongman Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" mantra.

While sharing concerns about China and deepening defence ties, India has bristled at Trump's offer to mediate over the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, and at unease in Washington over a citizenship law criticised as anti-Muslim.

They are due to address a huge rally of around 100,000 people at the world's biggest cricket stadium in Modi's home state before Trump and First Lady Melania fly to the Taj Mahal to watch sunset.

Excited crowds began queueing at 4:00 am to get into the brand new stadium for the "Namaste Trump" rally, payback for a "Howdy Modi" event in Houston last year in front of cheering Indian-Americans where Trump likened Modi to Elvis Presley.

Trump told a rally on Thursday that "six to 10 million people" would be along the route of his motorcade, but this appears to have been a misunderstanding. Organisers said there will be tens of thousands.

Thousands of posters with the words were erected every 10 metres (yards) along Ahmedabad's major roads. Sellers of flags and masks of Modi and Trump were doing brisk business.

Trump tweeted en route to India - in Hindi - that he was "eager to come to India" while Modi responded by saying that "guests are next to God", a well-known saying.

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