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US ignores H'bad's hunger for consulate

US Secretary of State indicated opening a new US consulate was unlikely because of budgetary constraints.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2006 01:31 IST

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has nixed the idea of opening a new US consulate in Hyderabad.

According to Congressman Joseph Crowley, a former chair of the India Caucus who has been pressing for a consulate in either Bangalore or Hyderabad, Rice apparently "backed away" from the idea.

Testifying at the House International Relations Committee on Thursday to get her budget for the State Department approved, Rice indicated opening a new brick-and-mortar US consulate was unlikely because of budgetary constraints.

But said she was working with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in developing new ideas to serve these other cities in India, Crowley said.

"While I commend Secretary Rice for thinking outside the box in bringing US diplomats into the field and using technology to cut the visa red-tape, I am disappointed that she is not excited to support the construction of a bricks and mortar consulate in southern India," asserted Crowley, calling it a "serious mistake" not to do so.

Last year, during consideration of the State Department Authorization Bill, Representative Crowley offered a successful amendment to create a new consulate in either Bangalore or Hyderabad to serve southern India.

Currently all of southern India is served by an overburdened consulate in Chennai.

At the annual testimony on Thursday before the House International Relations Committee, Crowley argued for a regular consular office saying it would be more convenient for Indians travelling to the United States, and for US businesses based in Bangalore and Hyderabad who have had to send employees to Chennai in order to get visas for meetings or trainings in the US.

In response to a question by Crowley on the expected date of a new consulate to be opened, Rice instead promoted further diplomatic visits, electronic visa programmes and other aspects of her "transformational diplomacy" initiative that requires more US personnel in countries like India and China.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 15:06 IST