Clinton seeks to narrow gaps with India
* World’s two largest democracies renewed ties after Cold War era
* But again going through an open spat over US efforts to pressure
INDIA: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hoped Monday to
narrow a gap with India over Iran as she tried to throw a spotlight on
issues dear to her heart such as the fight against sex trafficking.
Clinton was paying the first visit by a top US official to the
eastern metropolis Kolkata and will then meet in New Delhi with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, amid concern that the growing US-India
partnership has been drifting.
The world's two largest democracies have rapidly expanded ties since
overcoming mutual mistrust during the Cold War, but have been going
through one of their most open spats in years over US efforts to
A US law will slap sanctions starting June 28 on banks from countries
that keep buying oil from Iran, amid charges by Israel and some Western
officials that the regime is building a nuclear bomb.
India is highly dependent on oil imports and since its independence
has strongly resented any moves it sees as foreign diktats.
Indian companies have been quietly reducing Iranian oil, although a
major Iranian trade delegation is visiting New Delhi at the same time as
A US official said India had made “good progress” but Clinton would
seek further assurances as Washington determines whether to exempt India
from the sanctions. It has already exempted European Union nations and
Clinton is expected also to stress areas of growing convergence with
India. US officials were pleasantly surprised when India, in response to
domestic pressure, backed a US-led UN resolution pushing Sri Lanka on
India has also been repairing ties with historic enemy Pakistan,
removing a headache for the United States whose own relations with
Islamabad have been in crisis since US forces killed Osama bin Laden a
year ago. Clinton said she will speak at a forum in Kolkata about the
economy and about investment opportunities in its state of West Bengal,
which is strategically close to booming East Asia but has had less
dramatic growth than some parts of India.
“I will have a chance to meet with a cross-section of the citizens
from here in Kolkata, including a lot of young people, and talk about
the future of this country and our relationship,” Clinton told US
On Sunday, Clinton sought to draw attention to sex trafficking in
India, where forced prostitution of women and girls is one of the
largest illicit businesses.
Clinton appeared visibly moved as she watched a dance by former
victims of sex trafficking, who recounted their plight in a synchronised
performance designed as a form of therapy by the local group Kolkata
Clinton called the recital “mesmerising” and thanked each of the six
dancers, telling them she was proud of them. She was shown quilts which
former trafficking victims sew as a way to give them new livelihoods.
“What you're doing is so important to try to not only help yourselves
but to help other young girls,” Clinton said.