Foreign Secretary ends her 3-day trip to Capitol Hill.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: If the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is banned from the US, the government of India will take up the case with the US government, Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said.
Modi is free to apply for a visa whenever he wants, and the US will consider it as they do with all such applications, said Singh speaking to reporters at the Indian Embassy here Wednesday.
“To my understanding, he hasn’t been banned, and so there really is no need for us [the Indian government] to take it up,” she said.
Singh said that she and her counterparts in Washington did not discuss, in any terms, the US sentiment toward Modi, even though the past few weeks have seen certain Congressmen arguing over the merits of HR 417, which blames the BJP leader for his alleged role in the Gujarat riots and applauds the fact that he has not been given a visa to enter the US.
Singh said she was “struck by the strength of bipartisan support” India has on Capitol Hill, implying that she does not see Modi as a factor that would cripple relations between the two countries.
The Foreign Secretary also discussed the highlights of her three-day trip to the US capital and other issues pertinent to the US-India bilateral relationship, saying that the visit was mainly to follow-up on discussions Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had when he was here in September.
Singh had a number of “exceedingly useful and very productive” meetings over the past three days, some of which included with Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Foreign Secretary also said that she has voiced her concerns with the relevant politicians on Capitol Hill regarding immigration reform and its potential impacts on Indian IT companies doing business in the US, but did not give details as to what those discussions entailed.
Singh also voiced India’s concerns regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal, but would not comment further when asked.
On other fronts, Singh said the US was eager to see further progress made in the investigation and trials related to the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11, and that lawmakers here are pushing for India to puts its long-standing feud with Pakistan to rest. In terms of the recently passed ruling in India regarding intimate relations between same-sex couples, Singh said the matter did not come up, and that it was something for Indian courts to speak about, not her.
Singh relayed that she had discussions regarding issues with Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), and the issue of compulsory licenses for pharmaceutical companies in the US. Saying that many concerns brought up over the past six months are being addressed, Singh said that there are still many more discussions that need to take place, and said only that there is “a great deal [of meetings] in the pipeline.”
Singh also had a Strategic Security Dialogue with Rose Gottemoeller, the Acting Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, during which the issues of Iran, Syria, and China were brought up, on Tuesday. With Kerry, Singh discussed Pakistan (during which Kashmir never came up), Afghanistan, as well as the religious and political turmoil in Bangladesh.
Regarding Bangladesh, Singh commented that a solution to the situation in that country was “for them to decide” and that the US and India “both want elections to take place, [and] there’s a common interest to see a stable Bangladesh.”
Additionally, Singh had encounters with Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, Under-Secretary of the Department of Commerce Eric Hirchhorn, Under-Secretary of the Department of Defense Dr. James Miller, and also spoke with Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, with whom the Foreign Secretary says she had a “very good discussion.”
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