Nikki asserts importance of religious freedom; meets PM

Nikki asserts importance of religious freedom; meets PM

Nikki Haley with Narendra Modi.

On the first day of her three-day tour, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, underscored the importance of religious freedom in a democracy.

“We think freedom of religion is just as important as freedom of rights and freedom of peoples,” she told reporters after visiting the Humayun tomb here on Wednesday in the company of the US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.

Later in the day, she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Ambassador Haley noted the deepening relations between India and the US, particularly in strategic and defence sectors. Both discussed ways to enhance India-US cooperation including on counter-terrorism and in multilateral fora. They expressed confidence that strong India-US partnership will continue to be an important factor for global peace and prosperity,” the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

Haley, the 46-year-old Indian-American, said she was looking forward to an inter-faith tour scheduled on Thursday when she would visit a temple, a mosque and a church in Delhi.

Describing her visit as a home-coming, Haley said, “It makes my heart happy to be back in India. It is as beautiful as I remember it to be (she visited India in 2014 as South Carolina Governor). It's always good to be back home. My parents said I was crazy to come at this time of the year because it is so hot, but it is worth.”

Referring to the strength of the US-India relationship, she said the two countries were the oldest democracies that share values of people, of freedom and of opportunities.

On her first visit to India after becoming the US Ambassador to the UN, Haley said there were opportunities between the US and India at multiple levels, including in counter-terrorism and military cooperation.

“In this day and time, we see more and more reasons for India and the US to come together. I am here to once again solidify our love for India, our belief in the friendship India and the US have and our willingness to make that relationship, even more, stronger,” she noted.