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Religious freedom nudge to India by US

Top official of Joe Biden-led country takes note of ‘concerns’, spotlights commitments
Joe Biden.
Joe Biden.
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PTI   |   Washington   |   Published 07.12.22, 07:19 AM

India is home to a great diversity of faiths and the Joe Biden administration will continue to encourage it to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, a top US official has said, days after America designated 12 nations, including China and Pakistan, as “countries of particular concern”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Friday designated 12 countries, including Myanmar, as “countries of particular concern” for the current status of religious freedom in these nations.

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He said around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs.

Responding to a question on why India was not designated by the US government as a “country of particular concern” on the issue of human rights, state department spokesperson Ned Price said it was the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths.

“Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we’ve taken note of when it comes to India. We continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes India,” Price told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

The Biden administration will continue to encourage the Indian government to uphold its commitments to protect religious freedom for all, he said.

“We engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom. As the world’s two largest democracies, the United States and India, are also committed to an enduring project,” he said.

“This is the project that secretary Blinken spoke about previously. The project that as our founders put it, of striving to form a more perfect union. This is a project for both of our countries,” Price said.

“We have worked together, and we can work together to show that our democracies can meet our peoples’ needs. We must continue to hold ourselves to our core values including respect for human rights like freedom of religion and freedom of belief or expression,” he added in response to a question.

“That, in turn, makes our respective democracies even stronger. Secretary Blinken, given the totality of the facts and the circumstances, determined that religious freedom concerns in India do not warrant a country of particular concern designation or placement on the special watch list. But, these are conversations that we continue to have with our Indian partners and with partners around the world,” Price said.



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