By Arun Kumar
Washington: Omission of Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s name from a US human rights report was no indication of a change in policy, a US official has reiterated.
“There is no change in policy. There’s no editing error,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Friday when asked about the omission of the Gujarat chief minister’s name from State Department’s congressionally mandated report.
“The 2013 Human Rights Report focuses on events that took place between January and December of 2013,” she said.
“We generally provide updates on significant developments that occurred during the reporting period related to events included in past reports.”
“So obviously, our position with respect to the 2002 communal violence is clear and has been thoroughly documented in our Human Rights Reports over time, including the most recent report,” Psaki said.
While the reports cite US “concerns about several instances of communal violence”, she said: “Our goal is to use illustrative cases to shed light on the nature, scope and severity of human rights abuses we report, not to comprehensively catalogue every human rights violation or abuse that occurred.”
“And again, when there are significant developments – whether that’s a legal case or issues along those lines – those are what are included,” Psaki said. “So it is not an indication of a change in policy or anything along those lines.”
Like Thursday, the spokesperson again categorised US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell’s recent meeting with Modi as part of a “comprehensive outreach across India to senior leaders in political parties, business organization and NGOs”.
“Starting last November, Ambassador Powell has shared and listened to the views of many on the US-India relationship,” she said without naming any other political leader the US envoy has met or plans to meet.
“I’m not going to outline every meeting or confirm every meeting, but I can assure you that her engagement is broad,” Psaki said.
The spokesperson also cited Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal’s upcoming visit to India in this context, but could not say whether she would be “meeting any other political leaders of other political parties before elections”.
Asked what was the purpose of talking economic cooperation with the government before the elections, Psaki said: “There are a range of officials and leaders who are engaged in economic cooperation, including business leaders, including NGOs.
“This is an important part of our relationship with India so it’s no surprise that she’d (Biswal) be taking a look at our long-term interests,” she said.