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Hillary Clinton bowls over Indian MPs promises H1B increase


Hillary Clinton bowls over Indian MPs (from Newindpress, India) Wednesday March 2 2005 00:00 IST IANS

NEW DELHI: She came, she spoke and she conquered - US Senator Hillary Clinton left an indelible impression on young and first-time Indian MPs during an all-too-brief 15-minute interaction with them during her visit here.

"She was amazing. We all were very excited," gushed first-time Congress MP Naveen Jindal when asked about the meeting during Clinton's three-day visit to India last week.

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The meeting, though "short but sweet", gave the MPs a chance to listen to her views on India-US relations, share their concerns about the two democratic countries and ask her questions about various issues ranging from Iraq to new US visa rules.

The MPs, who were completely bowled over by the former US first lady, did not conceal their excitement about the meeting.

"She looked stunning in her black trousers and fuchsia coloured silk jacket," said one of them.

"But she smartly dodged our queries on her prospect of becoming the next American president," said Jitin Prasada, also a first time Congress MP.

Many MPs pointed out that Clinton spoke of her "special bonding" with India.

"India has been closer to my heart since I visited this country with my daughter Chelsea in 1995. That bond strengthened when I visited here with my husband (former US president Bill Clinton)," one of the 25-odd MPs who attended the meeting quoted Hillary Clinton as saying.

"Chelsea also still cherishes her memories about India. It's vital to have closer interactions between the two democratic countries," the senator added.

When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ravi Shankar Prasad, a former minister, asked Clinton about the US' "tilt" towards Pakistan, she admitted that India played a crucial role in fighting terrorism, but said the US wanted Pakistan also to do that.

"She was very diplomatic, supported the Bush government's foreign policies and was frank enough to say that she also believed an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq would not be good," Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a New York attorney who won his first Lok Sabha victory on the Congress ticket, told IANS.

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Clinton buttured Yaskhi, who asked if there was a move to increase H1-B visas, that the Democrats would support such a move in the senate.

Yaskhi will forever remember the meeting.

"When I told her that I was once her consbreastuent and was now a member of the Indian parliament, she asked me about what I was doing, why I had come back and how I felt here. She was very sweet," Yaskhi said.

To businessman-turned-politician Vijay Mallya, who spoke of the difficulties Indians faced due to visa restrictions, Clinton said: "You have to understand what we are going through in the post-September 11 scenario. One has to live with this."

The senator also urged the Indian government to facilitate investors if it wanted to improve inflows into the country.

"I would always prefer India to China because it's a democratic country," she told Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress. Where necessary, Clinton did not hesitate to call a spade a spade.

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"You do not have good airports or good roads, so how will you attract investments. Look at China, they have developed all the infrastructure facilities required," she maintained.

Onkar Singh Kanwar, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and banker Deepak Bagla, apart from a few other businessmen also attended the meeting, organised by the Young Parliamentarians' Forum.


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