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'Obama's visit has made India ambitious'

November 10, 2010 01:14 IST
Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt checks out the Indian establishment's reaction to the Obama visit.

The Indian establishment is very pleased with President Barack Obama's visit.

When asked if the visit surpassed their expectations, a senior source in the ministry of external affairs told Rediff.com, "I would say it made India ambitious!"

"The support for India's UNSC (United Nations Security Council) bid was unequivocal," he added.

When asked if Obama's offer of support for India's UNSC bid was symbolic or substantive, the source replied, "There was both symbolism and substance. It was a very explicit political statement of support."

The source was cautious when asked about Obama's statements on Iran and Myanmar and reiterated India's well-known position that Iran must abide by the International Atomic Energy Agency's terms.

India had historic ties with Iran, the source added, but completely differed with Obama's position on the Myanmar issue.

When people say, "India should look east," the source pointed out, "then Myanmar is the first country to our east!"

The source cited many reasons for India's good relations with the military dictatorship in Myanmar. In unambiguous terms India rejected Obama's charges made during his speech in Parliament where he mentioned that 'In international fora, India has often shied away from some of these issues,' in an apparent reference to India turning a blind eye to human rights abuses and Sunday's rigged election in Myanmar.

While underplaying Obama's charges, the source said, "There is no need to take the charges literally. It is a democratic and equal partnership where views can be expressed freely. India has not suppressed voices in support of (Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, the New Delhi-educated) Aung Sang Syu Kyi."

China's increasing presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was not discussed, but both nations did discuss Pakistan, China and other issues related to maritime disputes and the security situation in the Indian Ocean, the source said.

Discussing the Entities List, which was to be relaxed for entities like the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Defence Development Research Organisation, giving them access to high technology exports, the source said the finer details were not yet known.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi