US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday began a three-day visit to India by meeting women rescued from human traffickers in Kolkata and promising to help.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, surrounded by security personnel, waves upon her arrival at the airport in Kolkata. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
She will stay in the city for two days before flying to New Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Human trafficking is high on her agenda, which also includes foreign direct investment in retail, among other issues.
Clinton, who had earlier visited Kolkata as the US First Lady after Mother Teresa's death in 1997, was on Sunday received by senior officials and US ambassador to India Nancy Powell.
Soon after arriving in the city, she paid a visit to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to meet the rescued women as well as some NGOs working against human trafficking. The talks focused on the problems of prevention, rescue and repatriation of victims in India as well as neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh.
"Clinton expressed concern that human trafficking was rampant in India at a time when the country was witnessing an economic boom," said Manab Roy, deputy programme director of Save the Children India, who participated in her meeting with NGOs. "She told us it was part of her India agenda, and she would raise the issue at high forums."
Clinton was greeted by a welcome dance at ICCR's Rabindranath Tagore Centre by seven women rescued from human traffickers. She clapped enthusiastically during the four-minute performance on the power of womanhood.
Later, she visited the British-era museum Victoria Memorial. "It is a monumental hall," she said after spending 15 minutes at the museum. "It has been well preserved. For long, I wanted to visit the Victoria Memorial. It has been a treat for me."
Clinton is scheduled to meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday before heading to New Delhi.