On August 20, 2007, we published an interview with India's Ambassador to the United States Ronen Sen titled 'We will have zero credibility'.
On Tuesday, Members of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties objected to some of the ambassador's comments in the interview, and disrupted Parliament's proceedings.
Following the uproar, Ambassador Sen has sent us a message which we reproduce below:
I have received several queries about a report datelined Washington DC, August 20, 2007, by Mr Aziz Haniffa of Rediff India Abroad, which quoted me extensively on the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement.
I had an off-the-record conversation with the correspondent giving some assessments on this subject. A number of the comments were, however, either misunderstood or misquoted or quoted out of context. For instance, I did not say that the Hyde Act could not be renegotiated, but said that the bilateral agreement could not, in my view, be renegotiated. With reference to the Hyde Act, I had expressed my assessment it would not be amended in the foreseeable future.
Some of the comments attributed to me in this off-the-record conversation were, however, made by me in my personal capacity and do not reflect the positions of the government. I fully recognize that such personal views, even in a private conversation, should have been expressed with better judgement and due decorum. For instance, my comment about "running round like headless chicken looking for a comment here or comment there" was a tactless observation on some of my media friends, and most certainly not with reference to any Hon'ble Member of Parliament. It was certainly not my intention to cast aspersion on any individual or organization. However, if I have unwittingly hurt any sentiments, I offer my unqualified apologies.
Rediff India Abroad Managing Editor Aziz Haniffa replies:
Ambassador Ronen Sen made these comments when I called him by phone on Sunday (August 19) morning at his residence to get his thoughts on the debate in New Delhi over the US-India civilian nuclear agreement and the recent accord reached by India and the United States on the 123 Agreement.
At no point of the conversation did the ambassador specify that it was off-the-record or even on background.
I have had a very good relationship with Ambassador Sen ever since he was posted in Washington, and we regularly talk to each other on various aspects of the US-India relationship, and whenever he has said a conversation is off-the-record or on background, I have always honored these ground rules.
But on this occasion, I repeat, he did not specify that our conversation was off-the-record or on background, and hence, I unambiguously and unequivocally stand by my report and state categorically that nothing in it was either deliberate, malicious or misunderstood or misquoted, because I have nothing but the highest respect for him.