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US lawmakers praise Indo-American community

May 25, 2010 13:07 IST

US lawmakers Phil Gingrey, a Republican from Georgia, and Christoper Van Hollen, Jr, a Democrat from Maryland, showered lavish praise on the Indian American community as an invaluable bridge in deepening of the US-India ties at the Capitol Hill reception hosted by the National Federation of Indian American Associations on Tuesday.

But Gingrey also indicated that the US Congress expected India's support to isolate Iran for allegedly developing a nuclear weapons capability and New Delhi's endorsement of the punitive US-led sanctions against Teheran.

India has opposed the US-led punitive sanctions against Iran and would rather prefer attempts at a diplomatic dialogue.

Gingrey, a physician turned politician, declared that the cause of "building stronger and having more durable Indo-American relations is one that's very important to me as it should be to all Americans".

"India remains an important ally of the United States -- an important agent for positive change in the global economy," he said.

Gingrey recalled his recent trip to India as part of a Congressional delegation and said the visit was "highly insightful" and had "reinforced in my mind the need to continue to push for new ways to build upon the relationship and create economic, social opportunities to both of our countries".

"I recognise that there is an important role for the United States to play in helping India meet its challenges on matters ranging from international security to of course, nuclear energy," he said.

Gingrey, referring to the US-India civilian nuclear deal that he had voted in favor of, said, "It is my hope that the current administration and this Congress as well as Congresses of the future will build upon the progress for the betterment of future generations of Americans and Indians."

In regard to Iran, Gingrey said, "We are likely to be considering a conference report in the coming weeks to provide the administration with the necessary authorisation to impose meaningful sanctions on Iran."

During his trip to India, he said, he had discussed this with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and argued that "sanctions or the threat of sanctions would provide a critical disincentive to Iran to engage in actions that may destabilise the region and further compound the numerous challenges that we face in the Middle East."

India has warned that sanctions against Iran, which would only result in hurting the Iranian population as a whole, could destabilise that country and the region.

Gingrey said, "While this Congress must remain committed to support our allies like India, it must likewise remain firm in its commitment to address the threat posed by other nations like Iran, who have scoffed at the concerns of the international community and they have shown wanton disregard for their regional neighbors."

Gingrey praised the Indian-American community in contributing to the US-India relations.

He said he was sanguine "not just because of the cooperation of governments but because of the cooperation of communities and individuals like each of you in this room."

"It's only through human interactions and shared experiences can we find our common humanity and realise our common goals to build a better, freer world for our children and grand-children," he said.

Van Hollen spoke of the "incredible contributions" made by the Indian American community "both in our community life, in our political life, in terms of our economy, businesses, professional associations and organisations".

Van Hollen mentioned of his meeting with Dr Singh during his November visit to US.

"Â…Everyone was very impressed with the prime minister position on a whole range of issues that are important to both India and the United States."

He pledged saying, ""I want to continue to work with you to make sure, number one, that the Indian American community continues to thrive in the United States, and number two, be of help to those who want to continue to deepen and strengthen the relationship between India and the United States as of the strategic partnership going forward."
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC