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Trump claims US hit hard by tariffs, India says won't rush into trade deal

NEW DELHI: Days ahead of his visit to India, US President Donald Trump caused yet another stir, claiming New Delhi has been hitting America "very hard" with high trade tariffs, according to a report on Friday.

At a 'Keep America Great' rally in Colorado overnight, Trump told thousands of his supporters that he "really likes" Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and they would be talking business, a report mentioned.

"I'm going to India next week and we're talking trade. They've been hitting us very hard for many, many years," Trump said according to the report. "We've got to talk a little... We've got to talk a little business. It's been hitting us hard. They give us tariffs, one the highest in the world is India," he said.

The remarks come ahead of Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrival in India on Monday. They are scheduled to travel to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi on a three-leg visit that will end on Tuesday.

A "limited" trade deal with India seemed a possibility until Trump dashed hopes earlier this week.

"We are doing a very big trade deal with India. We will have it. I don't know whether we will have it before the election, but we will have a very big deal with India," Trump had told reporters on Tuesday as he left on a trip to California.

"Fair trade" and "America First" have been central planks of Trump's presidency and a deal with India would have helped burnish his credentials as a deal maker as well as show his constituency that he has kept his poll promises.

According to Indian Foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar, India and the US have both agreed not to rush the deal and instead look to the future and strike an agreement that will be a "win-win" for both the sides. India is looking to increase its energy purchases from the US that would cut down the former's trade surplus. New Delhi is also looking at buying civilian passenger aircraft from the US in the years ahead, he told reporters on Thursday. On his part, Trump has downplayed the likelihood of a trade deal with India during his visit. "We're going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there," he said in his commencement address at the Hope for Prisoners Graduation Ceremony in Las Vegas on Thursday, according to a second news agency report.

"But we're only making deals if they're good deals because we're putting America first. Whether people like it or not, we're putting America first," Trump said.

In the absence of a trade deal, the highlight of the visit is expected to be a defence pact for US armaments firm Lockheed Martin worth $2.6 billion for 24 Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters. India and the US are also expected to sign five pacts in areas spanning trade facilitation and homeland security during Trump's visit.

With agency inputs

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