'Howdy, Modi!' India's prime minister joins Trump at rally and touts him as a 'true friend'
- President Donald Trump joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on stage for a major rally in Houston called "Howdy, Modi!," where the leaders heaped praise onto one another and touted the strong friendship between their countries.
- Organizers say over 50,000 people registered for the event and billed it as one of the largest gatherings for a foreign head of state visiting the US.
- Observers say the 90-minute display is a clear-cut endorsement by Modi of Trump, who is preparing for his 2020 reelection campaign.
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President Donald Trump joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally on Sunday called "Howdy, Modi!" in which both leaders held hands and touted their strong friendship to an audience of tens of thousands of people.
The community summit hosted by the Texas India Forum was a rare mass display for a foreign leader. Organizers said over 50,000 attendees registered for the event held at the NRG Stadium in Houston, and predicted it would be one of the largest gatherings for a foreign head of state visiting the US.
"Mr. President, this morning in Houston you can hear the heartbeat of this great partnership in the celebration of two of the world's largest democracies," he said to Trump, calling the meeting "history in the making."
Modi and Trump walked hand-in-hand and touted their strong friendship. Modi said Trump was a "true friend" to India, and described the US president as "warm, friendly, accessible, energetic and full of wit."
Trump also praised Modi, calling him "one of America's greatest, most devoted, and most loyal friends." He also endorsed his own immigration policies, comparing tightening security at the US-Mexico border to India's security concerns with its neighbor, Pakistan.
"We are taking unprecedented action to secure our southern border and stop illegal immigration," Trump said of his border security plan, an important campaign issue in Texas.
"Both India and US also understand that to keep our communities safe, we must protect our borders," he added.
Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner also symbolically handed Modi a key to the city.
Modi has emerged as one of the most powerful politicians in India's history after his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide victory in May.
Modi's visit and piling of praise onto Trump during the rally is being seen by observers as a clear-cut endorsement of the president as he prepares his 2020 reelection campaign. Modi, too, may have been looking to drum up US support amid criticism of his policies in Kashmir, after he revoked the region's special status last month and has left residents in a near-total communication shutdown.
The Indian government appears to have recently taken a page out of Trump's playbook, repeatedly accusing the media of reporting "fake news" on its treatment of civilians in Kashmir.
According to Reuters, over 3,800 people in the region have been arrested in the region as of September 6.
The Mayor of Houston @SylvesterTurner presents the Key to the City to @narendramodi as the mark of respect, solidarity and long standing India-Houston relationship. #HowdyModi pic.twitter.com/auLXorlxF6- Texas India Forum (@howdymodi) September 22, 2019