NEW DELHI — President Donald Trump began to discard the spirit of “namaste” that defined his two-day visit to India, criticizing political opponents as he prepared to return home and predicting a devastating crash in the financial markets if he doesn’t win re-election this November.
Speaking Tuesday to a group of Indian business leaders at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, Trump called the Democratic field in the 2020 election uninspired and inept. If the Democrats nominate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, he added, the move would “keep the markets down” for a while.
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“When we win,” Trump said of his re-election campaign, “I think the market’s going to go up like a rocket ship.”
He added: “I don’t think there’s going to be anyone on the other side who’s very inspirational.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said they were getting closer to a trade deal their governments have for months struggled to achieve, though neither leader put a time frame on a potential pact.
“Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement,” Trump said in remarks after a formal meeting with Modi.
The prime minister said the two sides have had “very positive discussions” and suggested they’re advancing into a next phase of talks.
Trump and Modi also stressed efforts to strengthen cooperation on energy and defense issues, announcing an expansion of their partnership. Trump reiterated an agreement he announced Monday under which India is expected to purchase some $3 billion in American-made military equipment.
The president’s itinerary in India on Tuesday attempted to shift the focus of his trip from spectacle to substance, with a series of official meetings and formalities. But it was the president’s expressions of warmth for India that stood out on his second day in a country that has given he and first lady Melania Trump a lavish welcome.
Trump described the visit as “unforgettable” and “extraordinary.”
“Melania and I have been awed by the magic of India,” he said.
Earlier as they sat down for their official meeting, Trump praised Modi for arranging an event that turned out an estimated 125,000 people to hear the president and prime minister speak.
While Monday was defined by Modi shining the spotlight on his guest — with cheering crowds and tours of some of India’s most significant cultural sites — on Tuesday the president will show deference to his host.
“The last two days have been amazing in every sense of the word,” Trump said.
Also on Tuesday, the president and first lady Melania Trump placed a wreath and scattered flower petals at a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi near India’s sprawling presidential palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Trump began the day with an elaborate welcome ceremony at the presidential palace. His vehicle was escorted onto the grounds by Indian soldiers on horseback, amid the sound of cannons firing. He then walked along a red carpet rolled out on the burnt orange soil for a review of dozens of uniformed Indian troops.
Trump is scheduled to wrap up his two-day trip with a news conference, followed by a state dinner with Modi. He’ll then return to Washington.