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US blames wrong reporting for tiff over Hazare

Washington: The United States blamed “some extremely inaccurate reporting out of India” for Indians taking umbrage over its stand on social activist Anna Hazare’s protest and said it supported the right of non-violent protest universally.

“Well, I’m not sure what those statements might have been based on,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Wednesday when asked about Congress party spokesperson Rashid Alvi’s comments questioning US “support” for Hazare and a foreign power trying to destabilise India.

“There was some extremely inaccurate reporting out of India yesterday or today that the United States had issued some sort of strong statement, which we did not issue,” she said.

“With regard to the case (Hazare), however, you know where we are. We support freedom of expression and assembly, and we encourage all countries and all parties to do the same,” Nuland said.

“All democratic governments have a responsibility to allow peaceful protest and freedom of dissent, even as they work to maintain public safety,” she said.

“India is a country that has a strong and long-established democratic tradition. It’s a country that people look to for these issues, and it has a long tradition of nonviolent protest,” Nulkand said.

“And it’s widely admired for these things and open debate, and that’s the standard that we all have come to expect from India.”

In response to another question about Hazare’s protest movement againsy corruption in India, the spokesperson reiterated that US statement reflected “the same underlying principles with regard to the strong, vibrant democracy of India, as we hope for in the transitional countries that we’re working with – Egypt, Tunisia, et cetera.”

“In all countries, the US supports peaceful freedom of expression, non-violent protest.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not spoken to her Indian counterpart in the last couple of days, Nuland said. “Obviously, our Embassy has been enunciating these same principles.”

“We support the principle of freedom of assembly, right of non-violent protest in democracies around the world, and in countries around the world the universal principle,” she added when asked if the US statement was specific to Hazare movement. (IANS)

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