Will accept any elected Indian leader, says US

Will accept any elected Indian leader, says US

Washington on Thursday said that the United States will welcome any democratically elected leader in India, apparently indicating that it might revoke its stand on Narendra Modi visa issue.

“We have welcomed every democratically elected leader of India and we will continue to do so. We have such deep admiration and respect for this democratic society and we have such respects for the leaders it produced through this process,” Nisha Desai Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, told a TV channel during her visit to New Delhi.  

The US State Department in March 2005 revoked the tourist/business visa issued to Modi, in view of his alleged role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Washington cited the sections 212 (a) (2) (g) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes any foreign government official, who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to America. Modi’s fresh application for a diplomatic visa was also turned down by the US State Department around the same time.

The US, however, initiated a sharp u-turn in its approach to Modi after he was declared the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. US ambassador to India Nancy J Powell met Modi in Gandhinagar on February 13 –signaling a move by the US to end a nine-year-long boycott.

Though Washington so far refrained from publicly committing itself to a review of its stand on Modi, Biswal’s comment on Thursday made it clear that US was ready to do business with him in case he forms the next government at the Centre. 

Biswal said that US would watch the nationwide elections in India with “fascination, admiration and respect”. She also expressed confidence that India-US strategic partnership would continue to flourish even after the Lok Sabha elections.

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