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After Swaraj meet, BJP softens stance on Obama

By Onkar Singh
November 09, 2010 01:18 IST
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After criticising United States President Barack Obama's first speech delivered at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on November 6, the Bharatiya Janata Party has softened its stance against him. In fact after a 30-minute meeting with Obama at Hotel Maurya on Monday, Sushma Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha appreciated the American President's remarks in which he described Pakistan as a haven for terrorists.       

Swaraj highlighted the close relationship, which has evolved over the years between the US and India. "She emphasised that the historical evolution of this relationship related back to the initiatives taken by the National Democratic Alliance headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when a strategic dialogue between the US and India had commenced. The BJP always considered the US and India, the two largest democracies of the world, as natural allies. President Obama appreciated and reciprocated the views expressed," the BJP said in a statement issued by the party headquarters in New Delhi.

Swaraj was expected to hold a press conference to give her version of the meeting with Obama, but he convinced the BJP to change its mind. After his joint press conference with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his speech in the Parliament wherein he described Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists, the BJP were in praise of Obama.  

"We appreciate the concern shown by the American President with regard to the terrorist attacks on 26/11 and the sympathy he expressed for the victims of the attack. US and India share a common perception of the war against terror. However, every Indian will appreciate if the US is clear in identifying the perpetrator of this terror attack -- namely Pakistan," Swaraj said.

She emphasised that occasional utterances on behalf of the US such as granting the special status relationship to Pakistan or treating it as the most important non-North Atlantic Treaty Oorganisation ally of the US was a cause of concern for India. An impression should not be gathered in India that Pakistan is an ally and India a market, she said.

Swaraj did not share the point of view expressed by Obama during his Parliament address on Monday evening that China has a role in resolving issues in South Asia. "The US must dispel this notion," she said.

Another important subject that Swaraj raised during her meeting with Obama was pertaining to the Bhopal gas tragedy. "The gross tragedy that took place in Bhopal 25 years ago has still left its wounds behind. The US must, even at this stage, take effective steps to ensure justice to the victims and adequate punishment to the guilty," she said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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