Saturday, April 28, 2012

No-visa stand on Modi to stay: US

Washington/ New Delhi: 
The US has said there is no change in its policy to deny visa to Narendra Modi, marking a setback for the Gujarat CM ahead of assembly polls later this year. The issue was revived after a Congressman wrote to secretary of state Hillary Clinton seeking that the US reverse its 2005 decision barring Modi entry. “Our position on the visa issue hasn’t changed at all,” state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday, responding to questions on the letter written by Congressman Joe Walsh about a fortnight ago. Clinton has not replied yet. “If we do respond, it’ll be along familiar lines,” Nuland said. The Indian American Muslim community demanded the state department stick to the 2005 policy on Modi’s visa. Walsh had argued that 10 years have passed since the violence in Gujarat and much progress has been made. “Modi has been recognized across the world for establishing Gujarat as the most business-friendly state in India,” he had said, adding that the BJP leader was “widely believed to be a serious contender for the 2014 election for Indian PM”. There was no reaction from Modi or the Gujarat government but the Congress took a swipe at the BJP leader. 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 hope the person concerned will...think about why the world thinks so poorly of him,” he said. Modi was first denied a visa in 2005 by the United States against the backdrop of the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in which 1,200 people were killed, most of them Muslims. The US had said 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… will be forbidden entry to the country”. AGENCIES