US President Donald Trump wants to strengthen India to limit China’s increasing power in the region. He wants to make the country “the best and most feared weapons” in the world, he said during a speech in the western city of Ahmedabad on Monday. Trump is in India for a two-day state visit.
Trump gave his speech during a joint performance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a cricket stadium with some 100,000 spectators. To offer a counterweight to China with its increasing claims for power in the region, Trump, like its predecessors, bets on the atomic power of India, with some 1.3 billion inhabitants, the world’s largest democracy.
“Together, we will defend our sovereignty and our security and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region for our children and for many, many generations thereafter,” the US president stressed. He never explicitly mentioned China in his speech.
Important military partners
The United States will be India’s most important military partner, Trump promised, and will provide “the best and most feared weapons”. Among other things, the Americans want to sell anti-aircraft guns, fighter planes, and drones, according to the American head of state. Both countries already negotiated a contract for new combat helicopters.
Trump praised India’s “inspiring” success in getting the Indian government excited about such a strategic partnership. In the seventy years since its independence from Great Britain, India has become “an economic heavyweight and the largest democracy ever”. The president described India as the “miracle of democracy”.
Trade agreement on break
On Monday, Trump also called for a trade agreement with India to be concluded soon. The discussions about this are still at an early stage, but they can lead to “a fantastic” deal with “incredible potential”. Initially, Modi and Trump were supposed to sign a limited trade agreement during the state visit, but negotiations seem to be stuck so far.
The visit of Trump comes while the controversial citizenship law in India is still stirring the minds. In New Delhi, on Sunday and Monday, riots continued between proponents and opponents of the law, making it easier for non-Muslims from neighboring countries to become Indian citizens. According to local media, one agent was killed in the violence.