The president and India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, have a closer relationship than the president does with some other world leaders

By Adam Carlson
February 24, 2020 11:27 AM
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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump — along with his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner — took a tour of the Taj Mahal on Monday afternoon during a two-day trip to India.

The visit so far has included a lavish presentation for the president, including more than 100,000 attendees at a “Namaste Trump” rally on Monday at the Motera Stadium, now the largest cricket arena in the world.

The president and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, have a conspicuously closer relationship than the president does with some other world leaders — some of whom were filmed talking about him behind his back at a NATO summit in December.

“This is such a great honor,” Trump, 73, told attendees at the rally on Monday. “Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to an exceptional leader, a great champion of India, a man who works night and day for his country, and a man I am proud to call my true friend: Prime Minister Modi.”

Trump was similarly warm while attending a rally for Modi — called “Howdy, Modi!” — in Houston last September.

As The New York Times noted, however, during his India trip Trump has yet to publicly address the controversy over what critics call Modi’s anti-Muslim policies in the majority Hindu nation.

From left: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty
From left: First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump at the Taj Mahal
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

“We are concerned with some of the issues that you have raised,” a White House official told reporters last week in a briefing ahead of the India trip. “And I think that the president will talk about these issues in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities.”

The Trumps’ visit to the Taj Mahal — the world’s most famous mausoleum and a masterpiece of architecture — was the last major event of their Monday in India. They posed for photographs on the iconic grounds, with the Taj rising behind them, as did Ivanka and Kushner.

Tuesday will include a meeting with Modi and a separate event with Indian investors as well as a state dinner.

The White House said last week the trip was meant to reflect the close ties between the countries and will focus on trade, energy and security.

From left: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the Taj Mahal
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

On Twitter, the president’s preferred mode of communication, he had shared multiple messages about the India trip. On Monday night local time, he was also sharing tweets attacking the many Democratic rivals vying to challenge him in November’s election.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — whom the president dismisses as “Crazy Bernie” — is now the leading candidate to face Trump, after wins in the Nevada caucus and New Hampshire primary.

“This grassroots movement is unstoppable,” Sanders tweeted this weekend. “Together, let’s win the Democratic nomination, defeat Trump and transform the country!”