MPs’ tip for Barack Obama: No K-word, please
Ahead President Barack Obama's visit to India, US embassy has sought feedback from a group of MPs on what India would like to hear Obama say. The feedback was anything but Kashmir. Aurangzeb Naqshbandi reports.delhi Updated: Oct 30, 2010 14:59 IST
Ahead of his visit, President Barack Obama wants to have a finger on the pulse of India and the US embassy is figuring out what the President should speak on and, most importantly, what to skip.
The US embassy invited a group of MPs recently to ask them what India would like to hear Obama say. The feedback was anything but Kashmir.
“What we would not like to hear from President Obama is Kashmir,” a Congress MP said, echoing others.
The US has maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and the two countries should resolve it through dialogue. However, Pakistan has more than often sought US mediation.
The MPs invited for the informal interaction with US officials, including assistant secretary of state (south Asia) Robert Blake and ambassador Timothy J Roemer, included Manish Tiwari and Shruti Choudhry (Congress), Balbir Punj and Anant Hegde (BJP), Jayant Chaudhary (Rashtriya Lok Dal) and Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal).
Blake and under-secretary William Burns are in India to finalise the agenda for Obama’s visit. Obama will address the members of the two houses of Parliament on November 8.
The MPs also discussed the Afghanistan and Taliban problems.
One MP expressed concerns about the Talibanisation of Afghanistan after withdrawal of NATO forces and the need to build up local government there.
He was also of the view that the presidential system would not be the best model in Afghanistan given that Hamid Karzai “does not seem to have popular support”.
Another MP suggested that Obama visit the countryside to see the level of women’s empowerment in India.