US will always be faithful and loyal friend to Indian people: Trump

Kusum Tewari

AHMEDABAD: In a relationship-defining speech at a packed Motera Stadium on Monday, US President
Donald Trump declared that his country would always be faithful and loyal to Indians, and enthusiastically embraced the entire gamut of India-US ties, saying shared democratic beliefs had forged an enduring friendship that brought the two nations together as powerful defenders of peace and hope.

“It is faith in free society, confidence in your own people, your trust in your own citizens and respect for dignity of every person that makes the US and India such a natural, beautiful and enduring friendship,” Trump said.

In a fulsome appreciation, Trump said, “The story of the Indian nation is a tale of astounding progress and a miracle of democracy, extraordinary diversity and above all a strong and noble people. India gives hope to all of humanity. It has become an economic giant, largest democracy and one of the most amazing nations anywhere in the world.”

In a speech lasting 27 minutes, Trump praised PM
Narendra Modi as an “exceptional leader”, a living proof of what Indians can achieve by hard work, referring to Modi’s humble beginnings as a “chaiwala”. He asked the PM to “stand” and shook him by the hand. He said Modi was a leader who worked for India night and day and who he was proud to call his “true friend”.

“We will always remember this remarkable hospitality. From this day on, India will hold a special place in our hearts,” Trump said. Referring to the PM, he said, “Everybody loves him but I will tell you this, he is very tough” and chuckled at his observation, adding Modi won a landslide in the largest democratic election to be held anywhere in the world.

Trump’s speech signalled strong confluence on major issues of India’s concerns. “US and India are committed to working together to stop terrorists and to fight their ideology,” he said. He added that his office was working in a “very positive way” with
Pakistan to crack down on terror organisations and militants in Pakistan. “It is thanks to these efforts we are seeing some signs of progress with Pakistan and are hopeful of reduced tensions and more harmony for all nations of south Asia,” he added.

“India and the US are committed to defend our people from radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said, while holding up India as an example of multi-faith tolerance. “India embraces individual freedom, rule of law, dignity of every human being and where people worship side-by-side in harmony,” he said.

Trump dwelt at length on the burgeoning defence ties as he highlighted joint military drills and sale of American weapons — “the best and most feared military equipment on the planet” — to declare the “US should be India’s premier defence partner”. He emphasised that the US military had been “rebuilt” and that
Washington was quickly revitalising its alliances and friendships all around the world and referred to India-US land, air and sea military exercise while announcing a joint commitment to a “free and open” the Indo-Pacific.

The speech came against the backdrop of criticism of India over alleged rise of intolerance and erosion of inter-faith amity. But Trump showed no sign that the charges had resonated with him yet as he launched into fulsome praise for “one great Indian nation” despite diversity of faiths and beliefs. “Your unity is an inspiration to the world,” he said.

“All Indians — Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews, rich and poor — must take pride in glories of the past, and a bright future,” the president said. Emphasising India’s democratic traditions, he said there was a difference between a nation that rose by coercion and one that rose by setting people free, and added that India would soon be home to the biggest middle class anywhere.

Trump struck an emotional connect when he expressed warm approval for people of Indian origin in the US who he said were contributing to American life in every field. “They are titans of business, the biggest, the best, pioneers of science, masters of arts,” he said.

The president took on opposition at home and spelt out why he thought there was great potential in India-US ties, and said US unemployment was low and the economy was booming. “A booming America is a great thing for the world,” he said, adding that he had shown how reduced taxes and regulatory burdens had worked and that Modi was also carrying out reforms at a record pace.

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