Hyderabad welcomes Ivanka Trump at business summit

Billboards with pictures of Ms Ivanka Trump dotted many parts of Hyderabad, India. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HYDERABAD (REUTERS) - India rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday (Nov 28) for Ms Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US president, who was set to attend a business summit in the southern tech hub of Hyderabad, where thousands of policemen stood on guard.

As political and economic ties expand, India has become a major market for the United States, with two-way trade of about US$115 billion (S$154.7 billion) last year. Military and strategic ties are also improving as China's influence rises in Asia and beyond.

Billboards with pictures of Ms Trump dotted many parts of the city, home to major US firms such as Microsoft. Authorities took beggars off city streets in a clean-up drive before the meeting, media said.

"Global eyes are on Hyderabad today," said Jayesh Ranjan, a government official helping to organise the event. "We are representing India."

Television broadcast images of the arrival of Ms Trump, the leader of the US delegation, who is also an informal adviser to President Donald Trump.

Later in the day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), an event conceived by former US President Barack Obama that is being jointly hosted by India and the US.

Preparations included about 10,000 police deployed to provide security, while some schools closed because of traffic restrictions, a senior police officer told Reuters. The authorities also beefed up the numbers of closed-circuit cameras.

On standby were sniffer dogs as well as "spotters", or men trained to detect any suspicious activity or people, the officer said, reflecting the trappings of a visit by a state leader.

The organisers of the summit, to be attended by 1,500 entrepreneurs and investors from 150 countries, had been overwhelmed with thousands of applications, state officials said.

Atif bin Arif, a bus tour operator who travelled from neighbouring Pakistan, said he wanted to explore collaboration opportunities on tourism in India, and was keen to hear Ms Trump.

"I am interested in what Ivanka Trump has to say," Mr Arif said. "I also want to know her reason for coming to Asia for this summit. Does she see this as a land of opportunities?"

In an interview with the Times of India newspaper, Ms Trump pitched for better ties between the two countries.

"We share common priorities, including promoting economic growth and reform, fighting terrorism and expanding security cooperation," she said in the interview, published on Tuesday.

This year, women are the theme of the gathering, held in prior years in countries such as the US and Turkey.

More than half the participants will be women, and all-female delegations will represent several countries, among them Afghanistan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"I aim for GES 2017 to be a global celebration that elevates the importance of empowering and investing in women entrepreneurs," Ms Trump said.

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