New York: US President Donald Trump returned home on Wednesday after a whirlwind visit to India that he tweeted on arrival “was great” and “very successful”.
Stepping off the Air Force One, he plunged into domestic politics telling reporters at the Joint Base Andrews that he had watched the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate’s debate Tuesday night and that it was “not too good, not too good”.
Trump confronted the fears over the coronavirus after a federal expert had warned that dire actions may be needed in the US to confront an outbreak and the stock market plunging, with the Down Jones index down 6.7 per cent over two days.
He tweeted that there would be a briefing on it Wednesday afternoon and added that Health Secretary Alex Azar “and all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus!”
He has faced criticism from Democrats and others that the country was not prepared to deal with the outbreak.
Trump is scheduled to speak on Thursday to a rally of his supporters in North Charleston in South Carolina state, which will be holding the Democratic party’s intra-party poll to select its candidate for the November election.
In terms of the crowds, the rally at the North Carolina Coliseum with a capacity of 13,000 will be a let down after the after the Ahmedabad “Namaste Trump!” event attended by about 120,000 people.
His supporters and the Republican Party have been tweeting photos and videos of the Ahmedabad rally as evidence of his international stature.
Since his party doesn’t have a primary in South Carolina with Trump acknowledged as the candidate, unlike some states where pro forma Republican polls are to be held, his rally will be for whipping up support for re-election.
The state has open primaries under which even those who are not registered Democrats can vote in that party’s poll and, according to some media reports, local Republican leaders have told party members to vote in the rival party’s election to boost a Democrat candidate like the self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who they think would be easier to defeat.
Summing up his trip, the White House said in a statement that he worked “to expand our already strategic partnership” with India.
It mentioned that the two countries were “working closely with India to combat terrorism, confront global drug trafficking, and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The two countries are still struggling to reach a comprehensive trade agreement, but the statement said Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi “are working toward a trade agreement that reflects the full potential of the economic relationship between our two countries.”
Trump has consistently complained about US trade deficit with India, but the White House pointed to the positives, saying: “During President Trump’s tenure in office, energy exports to India have grown substantially, generating billions of dollars in American revenues.”
It said that India will be buying over $3 billion in American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60R helicopters.
While India does not seem to have acceded to US requests to not use Chinese technology for building the 5G telecommunications network, the statement said they “discussed the importance of building secure 5G systems to promote a trusted networking future”.