The Latest: Trump hails India trip as ‘learning experience’

US Politics
Donald Trump
Narendra Modi
Melania Trump

Indian presidential bodyguards wait to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump for a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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NEW DELHI (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to India (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says an India visit that featured a mega-rally, a tour of the Taj Mahal and meetings with business leaders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a “tremendous learning experience” for him.

Trump is capping a jam-packed 36-hour visit as the guest of honor Tuesday at a state banquet at the presidential palace in New Delhi.

The president and first lady Melania Trump were shown around the grand palace and were introduced to a delegation of Indian officials before they were seated for a dinner that was unlikely to feature beef as cows are sacred in India. Trump is known to like a well-done steak or hamburger.

Trump says India is “very, very special” to him. The Republican president has cultivated a close relationship with Modi since taking office.

Trump will head for Washington after the dinner.

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6:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is suggesting that Democrats who don’t want Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to win their party’s presidential nomination tried to hurt Sanders by leaking intelligence from a classified congressional briefing about Moscow promoting Sanders. Trump hasn’t presented any evidence to support his claim.

At a news conference Tuesday in India, Trump noted Sanders’ momentum in the race and said Sanders has got “a head of steam” and appears to be winning.

Trump accused California Rep. Adam Schiff of leaking the information. Schiff is the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee and has denied the leaking accusation.

Sanders and several other Democratic presidential candidates are set to meet Tuesday night in South Carolina for the party’s 10th and perhaps most consequential debate of the 2020 primary season.

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6:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Harvey Weinstein’s conviction for rape and sexual assault is a “great thing.”

Trump calls it a “great victory” for women that “sends a very strong message” for the #MeToo movement against that kind of behavior toward women.

Trump himself stands accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by more than a dozen women when he was a private citizen. Trump has denied the allegations.

Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi on Tuesday at the end of a two-day trip to India, Trump said he’s not a “fan” of Weinstein. Trump claims Democrats are the ones who liked the now-disgraced movie producer, saying it’s because Weinstein contributed to their political campaigns.

A New York jury convicted the former Hollywood mogul on Monday of one count of rape and one count of sexual assault. Weinstein had denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

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5:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he faces criticism for an amended citizenship law that’s viewed by many as an effort to discriminate against Muslims in India.

Trump says he raised the issue of religious freedom with Modi and Modi was “incredible” on the subject. Trump says: “In India, they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom.” Trump adds Modi “wants people to have religious freedom.”

Trump is in India for a state visit. His comments came Tuesday amid a new round of protests in New Dehli over the citizenship law in India that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims.

At least seven people, including a police officer, were killed Monday. More than 100 others were reportedly injured in clashes.

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5:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is repeating his call for two liberal-leaning Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from cases involving him or his administration.

Speaking during a press conference in India, Trump said Tuesday of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, “I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump related.”

Trump claims Ginsburg “went wild” during the 2016 campaign with criticism of him. Ginsburg had told CNN at the time that Trump had “no consistency about him.” She told CNN Trump “says whatever comes to his head at the moment.” She later apologized for the political comments.

And Trump says Sotomayor made “highly inappropriate” comments in a dissent that was critical of the Trump administration’s rush to claim emergencies when asking the Supreme Court to review cases.

The Republican president says there should be a “higher standard” for Supreme Court justices.

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5 p.m.

In India where cows are sacred, the refrain at Tuesday’s banquet for President Donald Trump will be “Where’s the goat?”

Trump likes steak, hamburgers and meatloaf, but he’s going to be plied in New Delhi with goat meat — marinated overnight to steep in the flavors — at a state banquet ending his two-day visit to India.

A spokesman for India’s president’s office says the chefs will dish out appetizers and main courses to about 90 guests with a careful combination of spices to suit Indian and American palates.

Dinner will begin with a mandarin orange edible-gold-leafed “amuse-bouche” and appetizers will include lemon coriander soup, fish tikka and Cajun-spiced salmon. The main courses include lentils and goat meat plus a mushroom dish, mint yogurt and briyani for vegetarians. For those with a sweet tooth, the ceremonial dinner will end with servings of India sweet pancakes, hazelnut apple pie with salty caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream.

1:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling his trip to India “unforgettable,” “extraordinary” and an expression of “love” as he delivers a joint statement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi following their bilateral talks.

Trump announced that India has signed a deal to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced military equipment, including helicopters. And he says the two leaders made progress on what he describes as a “comprehensive trade deal” after talks.

Trump also says he and first lady Melania Trump “have been awed by the majesty of India” and will ”always remember the magnificent welcome” they received upon their arrival.

Modi, meanwhile, says the two had a productive exchange on issues including defense cooperation, energy and technology and said talks will continue.

He says that he and Trump have now met five times over the past eight months and said ties between the two nations is the “most important partnership of the 21st century.”

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12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is lavishing praise on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the Indian people love him “and that’s a good thing.”

Trump joked Tuesday that the thousands of people who joined the two leaders Monday at a huge stadium where there more for Modi than himself. Modi was re-elected with a huge mandate, leading his Hindu nationalist party to a massive victory in the 2019 election.

Speaking at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, Trump said that “every time” he mentioned Modi’s name there were cheers, “so they love you in India and that’s a good thing.”

On the second day of his whirlwind trip, Trump described his visit as “amazing in every sense of the word.” And he says progresses is being made on trade, fighter jet purchases and energy.

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11:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tossed colorful flower petals on a memorial to Mohandas Gandhi on Tuesday in New Delhi during a wreath laying ceremony.

The two scooped handfuls of the petals— Trump with gusto — their shoes off in a sign of respect. The memorial is at Raj Ghat where the famed independence leader was cremated after his assassination in 1948.

Trump also signed a guest book and was presented with a bust of Gandhi as Indian music played on a loudspeaker.

They ended the visit planting a tree at the site.

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10:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is kicking off his second day in India with an elaborate outdoor welcome ceremony in front of the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi.

The president’s armored car, nicknamed “The Beast,” was welcomed with cannon fire and accompanied by a parade of colorfully-dressed soldiers on horseback as it arrived at the palace. The welcome ceremony included hundreds of military officials, marching with instruments and swords.

Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to talk trade and other issues Tuesday as the president’s two-day visit to the subcontinent delves into substance after opening with a heavy dose of pomp and pageantry.

The jam-packed day will include a joint statement with Modi, meetings with business leaders and embassy official, a press conference and a state dinner.

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