Donald Trump, seventh U.S. President to visit India

When Air Force One touches down Ahmedabad, he will become the fourth consecutive American president to visit India.

February 23, 2020 09:27 pm | Updated February 24, 2020 10:39 am IST - Washington

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Washington for India, in Maryland on February 23, 2020.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Washington for India, in Maryland on February 23, 2020.

Donald Trump will be the seventh US president ever to travel to India and the first one to land in Ahmedabad, where he will be joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an unprecedented roadshow and a historic joint address before a record crowd of more than one lakh people.

Mr. Trump on Sunday left for his maiden visit to India for talks with the top Indian leadership during which the two countries are expected to significantly ramp up bilateral relations, especially in the defence and strategic ties.

When Air Force One touches down Ahmedabad on Monday, he will become the fourth consecutive American president to visit India, reflecting on the new phase of bonhomie in the 21st century between the two largest democracies of the world.

Also read: Namaste Trump: POTUS visit to India

And he is only second White House occupant to travel to India in their first term. Barack Obama was the first U.S. president to do so in 2010.

Mr. Obama visited India twice in 2010 and 2015 .

Dwight D Eisenhower was the first US President to visit India in 1959 . Richard Nixon travelled to India in 1969 and Jimmy Carter in 1978. Bill Clinton visited India in 2000 and George W Bush in 2006.

President Eisenhower’s historic visit to India from December 9 to 15 launched the bilateral relationship at an important period just over a decade after India’s own independence.

Through meetings with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the two sides affirmed the desire to foster a strong bilateral relationship and cooperate on shared values, including world peace, The Asia Group said.


“On this trip I have been talking a lot about America’s deep desire for peace. [ ] As far as the longing and aspirations of peoples are involved, we know we are one. [ ] The people to people is what will save the world, Eisenhower then said. Eisenhower addressed both houses of Parliament and delivered an address at the US Embassy in New Delhi. He received an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Delhi, participated in the inauguration of the World Agricultural Fair, and attended a civic reception hosted by the City of New Delhi.

Tensions over US tacit support for Pakistan and close ties with Pakistani General Yahya Khan loomed over President Richard Nixon’s short visit to India from July 31 to August 1, 1969.

While President Nixon sought to build trust , the lack of personal chemistry with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi dampened progress. These tensions would only deepen as India and Pakistan progressed toward conflict, which escalated into the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971, The Asia Group said in a report released ahead of the visit.

In New Delhi for less than one day, Nixon met with Indira Gandhi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan . No official statements or speeches were published from the visit.

President Carter visited India from January 1 to 3, 1978 , soon after Janata Party leader Morarji Desai succeeded Indira Gandhi as the prime minister.

During his visit, Carter sought to ease tensions between the US and India , which had escalated during the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence and India’s 1974 nuclear weapons tests.

However, Carter’s attempt to urge India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty blunted significant progress, The Asia Group, a strategy and capital advisory group based in Washington DC, said.

Carter met Prime Minister Desai and addressed both houses of Parliament. He visited a village in Haryana, which soon after adopted the name Carterpuri. The two sides released a memorandum of conversation between the leaders, as well as President Carter’s remarks before the Indian Parliament.

Following a period of intense diplomatic engagement with India and Pakistan to deescalate the 1999 Kargil War, Bill Clinton visited India from March 19 to 25, 2000.

“His watershed visit saw the two sides advance a higher level of ambition and outline new areas of bilateral cooperation across economic and strategic pillars. The diplomatic breakthrough also coincided with the rise of the Indian American diaspora in the United States, which strengthened the growing people-to-people ties between the two countries, The Asia Group said.

Travelling with his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea, the Clintons visited New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Clinton and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee issued an expansive joint statement, in which both sides pledged to enhance cooperation. Clinton also addressed both houses of Parliament and committed to strengthening ties as strategic partners.

During his visit from March 1 to 3, 2006, President George Bush’s visit charted new opportunities for substantive bilateral cooperation.

“Notably, the two countries finalised the framework the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which affirmed the US acceptance of India as a nuclear power. Progress during the visit also reflected growing bipartisan support for the relationship and view that supporting India’s rise was in the US interest — particularly amid China’s growing regional influence, The Asia Group said.

Bush gave remarks on the US-India relationship at Purana Qila in New Delhi.

Mr. Obama’s first visit to India from November 6 to 9, 2010 elevated the country as a strategic partner and critical focus in the foreign policy pivot to Asia.

“The two sides made progress across the strategic and trade pillars of the relationship. Notably, President Obama backed India’s bid to join the United Nations Security Council , The Asia Group said.

The two sides also agreed to $14.9 billion worth of trade deals and relaxed select trade restrictions and Mr. Obama addressed a joint session of the Parliament.

Mr. Obama created history when he visited India for the second time in 2015 — the first by a sitting US president — from January 24 to 27.

“The visit solidified the strong relationship between the two leaders and enabled them to chart historic progress on defence, clean energy, and climate change, The Asia Group said.

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