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As Trump visits, India blocks out slums with 500 metre-long wall

India’s government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attracted the rebuke of the country’s media as it erected a 500 metre-long wall, to block off slums lying on the route visiting President Donald Trump will pass on arrival Monday.

Trump will land at Ahmadabad Airport, from where he will be taken to the Stadium for a reception to be attended by an estimated 100,000 Indians.

Despite the criticism of Modi, all is set for the 36 hour visit by Trump from Feb. 24-25.

It is Trump’s first to India as the U.S. president.

He visited the South Asian country as a businessman before.

Trump’s Air Force One airplane is expected to touch down at the airport in Ahmedabad, a city in western coastal state of Gujarat, before noon on Monday, and he will depart back to Washington the Tuesday evening.

The highlights of Trump’s visit are the massive road show to welcome him in Ahmedabad which will culminate in a huge reception by nearly 100,000 Indians, the sunset visit to the world heritage site the “Taj Mahal,” and his high-level deliberations and industry meetings in Delhi on Tuesday.

The visit assumes significance even as it comes in the election year in the United States.

Zorawar Daulet Singh, Adjunct Fellow at the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), said that with the U.S. entering a new election cycle, it is unlikely any major outcomes will be possible on trade or regional security issues, “where differences on market access and Afghanistan are still very much on the minds of policymakers.”

Though Trump has categorically mentioned that a trade deal was not possible, anticipation remains high in India ahead of his visit.

Considering what has appeared in the Indian media over the past few days in the run-up to the visit, focus remains on trade, defence and Afghanistan.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been negotiating with Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, is not a part of Trump’s delegation, but U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would be in New Delhi.

It is anticipated that the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), a reduced tariff system which has been withdrawn by the United States from India, would be among the subjects to be discussed on the table.

A number of agreements and MoUs, including on counter-terrorism, intellectual property rights, space and medical cooperation, are also likely to be exchanged during Trump’s visit, official sources said.

According to the U.S. experts, defence deals up to 3 billion U.S. dollars are likely to be announced after the delegation-level and one-to-one talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump conclude on Tuesday.

The United States remains India’s second biggest trade partner after China, and has also grown as a big defence partner in the recent past.

The Modi cabinet has already cleared a 2.4-billion-U.S. dollar deal for buying 24 military helicopters from the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin.

According to India’s Foreign Secretary, the overall bilateral trade increased by over 10 percent per annum over the past two years to reach 142 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

And, it is expected to cross 150 billion U.S. dollars for the first time this year.

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