More than 110,000 people packed into the world’s largest cricket stadium in India on Monday to cheer President Trump, who promised “an incredible trade deal” and “the most feared military equipment on the planet” at his biggest rally abroad.
Nearly everyone in the massive stadium held cardboard Trump masks and wore white hats with the name of the event, “Namaste, Trump” or “Welcome, Trump.” The stadium erupted in roars at the introductions of Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trump wowed the crowd with a 30-minute speech, pledging to make the two nations even stronger allies.
“As we continue to build our defense cooperation, the United States looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet,” Trump said. “You have done a great honor to our country. We will remember you forever, from this day onwards India will always hold a special place in our hearts,” the president said to thunderous applause.
Trump said in a new deal set to be signed on Tuesday, the U.S. will sell to India military helicopters worth $3 billion, adding that America must become the top defense partner of India, which relied on Russian equipment during the Cold War. The president also said he had traveled 8,000 miles to deliver the message that “America loves India, America respects India and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people.”
On the busy first day of a 36-hour trip, Trump and first lady Melania also made stops at a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and the grand Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world. The two held hands as they posed for photographers and spent a few minutes looking at the white marble mausoleum as the sun began to set.
“It’s incredible, truly incredible,” Trump said. “Lovely, beautiful,” said the first lady.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner also posed in front of Taj Mahal, and then Kushner moved so Ivanka could get solo photos. Luckily, the hundreds of rhesus monkeys that live around the Taj Mahal did not disrupt the visit. (India put extra “monkey police” — guards with sling shots — on duty to keep the animals away.)
Despite repeated reports from the mainstream media that Trump is unpopular abroad, India rolled out the red carpet for the presidential visit and endless crowds of people 10 deep lined every street along his motorcade’s route. There were traditional dancers on both sides of the road, many of them waving India and U.S. flags. A stream of large roadside billboards included messages such as “Stronger friendship for a brighter future” and “Welcome to the land of Mahatma Gandhi.”
The president will end his brief visit to India on Tuesday in the capital, including meetings with Modi over trade talks and a formal state dinner.
“We will be making very, very major, among the biggest ever made, trade deals. We are in the early stages of discussion for an incredible trade agreement to reduce barriers of investment between the United States and India,” Trump said. “And I am optimistic that working together, the prime minister and I can reach a fantastic deal that’s good and even great for both of our countries – except that he is a very tough negotiator.”