US President Donald Trump’s son dropped a planned speech on foreign affairs in the Indian capital yesterday after ethics experts said he should avoid wading into policy issues as a private citizen.
Donald Trump Jr is on a tour of India to promote real estate projects in several cities but ethics watchdog groups in the US say there is a possible conflict of interest in pushing the Trump brand name while his father is in the White House.
He was billed to make a speech on the topic “Reshaping the Indo-Pacific — The New Era of Co-operation” but hours before the conference began that was changed into a “fireside chat” where he spoke about his business and stayed clear of policy issues.
“I am here on business, I am not representing anyone,” he said at the conference organised by the Economic Times and Yes Bank.
He spoke before Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a keynote speech on preparing India for the future to a gathering of business leaders from India and overseas.
US senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to the US ambassador to India this week to ask for guarantees that the embassy and the state department will not offer any support to Trump Jr. beyond helping the US Secret Service to provide him with security.
Trump Jr said he had been coming to India for more than a decade to build business for The Trump Organisation and it had reached a take-off stage but there were self-imposed curbs following the election of his father as president.
“I learnt about doing business here through the school of hard knocks, we have built partnerships here,” he said.
This week he was wooing buyers to book luxury apartments in Trump Towers in Gurgaon on the outskirts of New Delhi as well as in Mumbai, attending champagne receptions.
Trump’s partners in India are playing up the Trump brand.
In the days leading up to Trump Jr’s visit, one of its development partners in Gurgaon began an advertising campaign in newspapers offering dinner and conversation with the president’s son.
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