Expressing concerns over the rights of minorities, the White House has said that US President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to India next week.
“President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” a senior official told reporters in a conference call on Friday. Read in Malayalam
When asked about the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizenship (NRC), which have sparked widespread protests, the official said, “We are concerned with some of the issues that you have raised.”
“I think the President will talk about these issues in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities,” the official added.
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The senior official also referred to a poll victory speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where he spoke about the inclusion of minorities.
“Prime Minister Modi, in his first speech after winning the election last year, talked about how he would prioritise being inclusive of India’s religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law,” the official said.
Noting that the US has great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, the official said, “We do have this shared commitment to upholding our universal values, the rule of law. We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions.”
“Of course, it’s in the Indian constitution — religious freedom, respect for religious minorities, and equal treatment of all religions. So this is something that is important to the president and I’m sure it will come up,” he added.
The official also pointed out that India has a strong democratic foundation and is rich in religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity.
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“In fact, it’s the birthplace of four major world religions,” the official noted.
Besides the US President, First Lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka will also be travelling to India on February 24 for the two-day visit. The trio will lead a 12-member delegation to Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi.
Pacts being readied: Homeland security to facilitation of trade
India and the United States are readying at least five pacts on homeland security, trade facilitation and intellectual property rights ahead of the bilateral meeting.
While the pact on homeland security will tackle counter-terrorism cooperation, the trade facilitation pact will look at providing a single-window system for US firms wanting to do business in India.
The two sides will also issue a joint statement, which will put significant emphasis on counter-terrorism, Indo-Pacific, space and nuclear issues.
Sources said while 8-10 pacts are under “active consideration”, about half-a-dozen are expected to be signed and announced during Trump’s visit.
Pak must crack down on terrorists for successful dialogue with India: White House
Besides this, the White House also said that successful dialogue between India and Pakistan would be possible if the latter cracks down on terrorists and extremists on its territory.
“I think what you’ll hear from the President is very much encouraging a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan, encouraging the two countries to engage in bilateral dialogue with each other to resolve their differences,” a senior administration official said, when asked whether Trump would offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue again during his upcoming Indian visit.
(With PTI inputs)
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