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'It's A Specific Case Dealing With A Specific Visit'

We are deeply appreciative of the role that the both the BJP and the Vajpayee government have played in opening the way for positive transformation of U.S.-Indian relations.

INTERVIEWS | 21 March 2005
'It's A Specific Case Dealing With A Specific Visit'
'It's A Specific Case Dealing With A Specific Visit'

Relevant extracts from the daily press briefing by the deputy spokesman of the US State Department, Washington, DC on March 21, 2005

A new -- another subject. According to the press reports, a lot -- I mean, including an Indian Globe article, Dr. Rice had a good visit to India. But another reports are saying that she left the visa controversy behind. Dr. Modi's visa, a lot had been said and written about it, but my question is only two part: one, if the decision was taken at the highest level with the Secretary Rice or from the Embassy level; and two, government of India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had requested a review, so where do you stand on these things?

Adam Ereli: Two points. One is, Secretary Rice did have an excellent visit to India. There were -- Secretary Rice and the Prime Minister and foreign minister were able to talk about all aspects of what is a strengthening relationship between the United States and India and we look forward to taking that relationship to an even greater strategic partnership. And that is, I think, the overall impression one would take away from the visit.

The issue of this visa, frankly, I think, should be separated entirely from the broader issue of U.S.-India relations. Why? Because it's a specific case dealing with a specific visit. It has nothing to do with bilateral relationships -- relations. It has nothing to do with our close partnership and good friendship with India. It is a technical matter related to a visa application.

For reasons I outlined last week, the visa that Chief Minister applied for was not given because the purposes of his visit did not coincide with the type of visa that he was requesting and also an existing visa was revoked because under the terms of our law the person in question did not qualify for a visa, given his involvement in -- or not his involvement -- given the findings of Indian commissions in investigating actions or lack of actions by state institutions and religious conflict in Gujarat state. So that's with regard to the visit and the decision.

With regard to the appeal, our Ambassador in India, Ambassador Mulford, put out a statement today noting that the Ministry of External Affairs had requested that the Department of State review the decision, and upon review of the State Department, reaffirmed the original decision. This was done at the -- well, I'll have to check -- I think it was done probably at the working level.

Question: I just have a quick one more, please. Are you going to -- with what you said bilateral relations are important than this situation with the visa controversy separate from that, what message do you think you have for the Indian-American community here, at largely over 500,000 from his state in the United States, and who are mostly businessmen or hotel and motel owners. They are protesting here. And what -- my views are really that every country, including U.S., has right to deny visa or whom they want to issue in several countries is U.S. right.

Adam Ereli: Well, let me just be very clear. This decision was -- one should not make more of this decision than it is. It's a decision based on the application -- based on the interpretation of law with respect to a specific request for a visa. It is not a reflection of our views of the government of Gujarat or the people of Gujarat or a reflection of our bilateral relations.

To the contrary, what I will tell you is that we are deeply appreciative of the role that the both the BJP and the Vajpayee government have played in opening the way for positive transformation of U. S.-Indian relations. And I would also [mention] the great respect the United States has for the many successful Gujaratis who live and work in the United States and the thousands who are issued visas to the United States each month.

Question: Adam, you exceed your question. Normally, you don't discuss individual visa applications. You have made an exception in this one. Why is that?

Adam Ereli: Not really. In certain cases, you can give the reasons for denial of the visa, in which we've done in this one.

Question: I think it's an exception.

Adam Ereli: I have asked that question. I asked that specific question and my information is that in certain cases when visas are refused you can speak to the reasons for those refusals in terms of the law.

Question: Thank you.

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