Saturday, April 28, 2012

No change in visa policy on Modi: USA

WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI, 26 APRIL: The USA has said there is no change in its policy to deny a visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
“Our position on the visa issue hasn't changed at all,” state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.
Ms Nuland was responding to questions on the letter written by congressman Joe Walsh to secretary of state Hillary Clinton asking that the US government reverse its 2005 decision not to issue a US visa to Mr Modi. The letter by Mr Walsh was written about a fortnight ago.  “If we do respond, it’ll be along familiar lines,” Ms Nuland said. In a statement, the Indian American Muslim community demanded that the state department should not change its 2005 policy on Mr Modi's visa.  Union law minister Salman Khurshid said it was a matter of concern that a question mark hung over someone who was heading a leading state in the country.  “I am sure that they (the USA) look at everything they want to look at...It is not for us to comment on US policy but it is a matter of serious concern that there is this kind of serious question mark on the personality of somebody who leads a major state in our country,” Mr Khurshid told reporters in Delhi.
Mr Khurshid said this when he was asked to comment on the US stand.  “It is sad but we have that. I hope that the person concerned will reflect upon this and think about it and think about why the world thinks so poorly of him,” Mr Khurshid added. Mr Modi was first denied a visa in 2005 by the US against the backdrop of the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat, in which 1,200 people were killed, most of them Muslims.
The US had said that it could not issue him a diplomatic visa because of its Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that “any foreign government official responsible for serious violation of religious freedom is ineligible for a visa.
Time magazine recently featured Mr Modi on the cover of its Asia edition, and included him in an online poll to pick the world's most powerful people.