Howdy Trump! India gears up for US president’s visit

Gujarat police's bomb detection & disposal squad officials inspect Gandhi Ashram, one of the venues likely to be visited by US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AFP)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Howdy Trump! India gears up for US president’s visit

  • Trump’s two-day visit will start on Feb. 24 in Ahmedabad

NEW DELHI: Excitement is mounting ahead of Donald Trump’s first visit to India, while the main city of the trip is getting a major facelift to host the American president later this month.

The enthusiasm has been projected as mutual, with First Lady Melania Trump saying she is “excited” about the trip.

“Thank you @narendramodi for the kind invitation. Looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad & New Delhi later this month @POTUS & I are excited for the trip and to celebrate the close ties between the #USA & #India,” the first lady said in a Twitter post on Wednesday night, in response to the Indian prime minister’s earlier announcement of the visit.

Trump’s two-day visit will start on Feb. 24 in Ahmedabad, the capital city of the western state of Gujarat — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s place of origin.

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is erecting walls to hide the city’s slum areas and has planted mature plum trees to get a new, greener look.

Trump will be escorted from the Ahmedabad airport by Modi in a 10-km roadshow to Sabarmati Ashram, the residence of India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi.

The ashram was the center of the country’s freedom struggle and resistance to British imperialism.

Later, Trump and Modi will inaugurate the newly constructed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium and address a gathering which, according to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation officials, is going to be attended by more than 100,000 people, whom the local administration is mobilizing “not only from the state but also other parts of India.”

Since the program has yet to be made public, local officials are hesitant to comment. However, the city’s mayor Bijal Patel told Arab News that “all the concerned departments are working overtime to make the event memorable.”

The event, dubbed “Kem Chho, Trump!” (Howdy Trump), is billed as a repetition of the “Howdy Modi” show that took place in Houston, Texas, during the Indian leader’s US visit in September last year, when Modi and Trump addressed a 50,000-strong Indian audience.

Trump on Tuesday told reporters at the White House that PM Modi believes there will be “5 to 7 million people (accompanying them) from the airport to the new stadium.”

“He (Modi) is a great gentleman. He is a friend of mine,” Trump said.

Meanwhile, Modi promised “a memorable welcome to our esteemed guests.”

“India and USA share a common commitment to democracy and pluralism. Our nations are cooperating extensively on a wide range of issues. Robust friendship between our nations augurs well not only for our citizens but also for the entire world,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

He added that Trump’s “visit is a very special one and it will go a long way in further cementing India-USA friendship.”

On the evening of Feb. 24, a state dinner is planned for Trump in New Delhi. Next day, he will receive a ceremonial welcome and both Modi and Trump would hold high-level talks.

Former Indian ambassador to the US Arun Singh referred to the visit as important and signaling a relationship that “goes beyond formal interactions.”

“The last visit of a US president to India was in 2015. This visit is important in that it is signaling continuity in high-level bilateral interactions. President Trump is in the final year of his current term and is preparing for his own elections in November. His visiting India at this time shows he is personally attaching importance to the relationship,” Singh told Arab News on Thursday.

He disagreed with critical opinions that New Delhi is showing its open support for Trump’s Republican Party.

“Every time a US president has visited India there has been a public event of some kind,” Singh said.

“When Clinton came in 2000, he addressed a joint session of the Indian parliament. Similarly, when Obama came in 2015, he also addressed the parliament and spoke at a public gathering in Delhi. When Bush had come in 2006, he had spoken at the old fort in Delhi. It shows that the relationship between New Delhi and Washington goes beyond formal interactions,” he added, citing the people-to-people dimension of the relationship, as there are “4 million Indian-origin people in the US, and 200,000 Indian students in US universities.”

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

Commuters wearing protective face masks amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus ride an elevated train in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 42 min 35 sec ago

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

  • South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo

BEIJING: The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is imposing a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals, state media reported on Tuesday, as China moves to address the threat of a rise in coronavirus cases in neighboring South Korea and nearby Japan.
People with suspected virus symptoms arriving in Qingdao, a major Northeast Asian transport hub in Shandong province, should be isolated in designated hospitals, while others are required to stay at their residences or designated hotels, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The rule came into force on Monday, Xinhua added, citing a local government statement.
“Apparently 100,000 South Koreans live in Qingdao, and there are normally over 300 flights a week between Seoul and Qingdao,” Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, said on Twitter. “This is likely to be disruptive to both economies.”
Another Shandong city, Weihai, said it would quarantine arrivals from Japan and South Korea from Tuesday — the first country-specific compulsory quarantine requirement by China, which has criticized travel restrictions implemented by other countries.
The measures comes as the virus, which started in China’s Hubei province, takes hold beyond the country.
South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
Weihai is also home to a sizeable Korean expatriate community. It lies near the eastern tip of the Shandong peninsula across the Yellow Sea from South Korea, and its quarantine rules apply both to Chinese and foreign nationals arriving in the city.
They will be put up in hotels free of charge for a 14-day quarantine period, according to a notice on the city’s official Wechat account.


● Qingdao imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

● Shandong city Weihai singles out S. Korea, Japan arrivals.

● S. Korea has almost 1,000 cases; Japan cases up.

People who arrived in Weihai from South Korea or Japan from Feb. 10 onwards have already been contacted by the Weihai government, the statement said, adding it had “appropriately handled” cases of fever.
The government of a third Shandong port city, Yantai, on Tuesday said all business travelers and short-term visitors should stay in designated hotels.
Further north in China’s Liaoning province, the city of Liaoning — home to both North Korean and South Korean communities — is tightening screening of inbound passengers and will check the temperature of all arrivals, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sweden’s health agency said it would not introduce airport controls that take up resources but are “ineffective” because infected people may not show symptoms.
Ukraine International Airlines onboard personnel will wear rubber gloves and masks on flights from Italy.
Meanwhile, the drugmaker Moderna has shipped a potential coronavirus vaccine for humans to government researchers for testing.
Shares of the biotech company soared, a day after the company said it sent vials to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for early-stage testing in the US.