Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday after a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India. Photo by Harish Tyagi/EPA-EFE
Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump wrapped a two-day state visit to India Tuesday after holding bilateral defense and trade talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meeting with Indian business leaders.
Trump and Modi held intensive talks at the landmark Hyderabad House government hall during which they discussed bilateral issues ranging from defense and security to trade and investment.
The leaders agreed to deepen their defense ties as China moves to strengthen its influence in South Asia, signing agreements for India to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters.
"These deals will enhance our joint defense capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side," Trump during a joint press statement with Modi following the talks. "I'm pleased to say that the U.S.-Indian partnership is now truly stronger than ever before. This was a great visit with a tremendous friend and a tremendous leader, Prime Minister Modi."
A hoped-for finalization of a limited trade deal between the two nations, however, did not materialize. Modi said the two sides would instead shoot for a "bigger deal" while the U.S. president said if a trade deal doesn't happen there will be "something else" satisfactory.
The United States has a $24 billion trade deficit with India.
Trump and Modi made no mention of the Indian prime minister's backing of a controversial new citizenship law that excludes Muslims refugees from neighboring nations. The Citizenship Amendment Act has been the subject of violent street protests, including one Monday just before Trump's arrival that killed seven people, including a police officer.
Trump said during a final news conference that he and Modi, a staunch Hindu nationalist, did not discuss the citizenship law, but they did talk about "religious freedom."
"It's up to India," he said of addressing violence between Hindus and Muslims.
The president on Tuesday also met with India's top business leaders at the U.S. Embassy in an effort to forge deeper trade and business relations. In his remarks there, Trump focused on economic issues and the upcoming U.S. election, predicting that "the market will go up like a rocket" if he defeats the Democratic Party challenger in November.
After the coronavirus outbreak fueled a nosedive on Wall Street Monday, Trump told reporters, "I think that's a problem that's going to go away," while reiterating the step Washington has taken steps to contain the spread.
"We're watching very carefully. We're fortunate so far and we think it's going to remain that way."
Before attending a final state dinner preceding his return to the United States, Trump also told reporters he and Modi had discussed India's tense relations with Pakistan. Saying he had a good relationship with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump praised the Muslim nation for "working to control cross-border terrorism" and offered to mediate.
Earlier Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump visited a school in New Delhi and interacted with young students who applied a "tikka" to her forehead. The first couple also received a ceremonial welcome by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan, his official residence.