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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), who led a Congressional delegation to India in January 2004, released the following statement today after an address to a Joint Session of Congress by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India:
“I believe that it is absolutely imperative that American and Indian officials do everything they can to ensure that the partnership between our two nations deepens and flourishes in the years ahead. Prime Minister Singh’s comments today in his address to Congress will only serve to strengthen our relationship.
“We must foster a deeper appreciation for the shared values and beliefs that lie at the heart of our two great democracies, and an understanding of the common principles and interests that bind us together.
“It is important to recognize India’s commitment, under the Indian constitution, for universal suffrage; equality for all citizens, regardless of faith, gender, or ethnicity; and protections for freedom of speech, association and religion. Furthermore, it is important for Americans to recognize that India is a partner in the effort to defeat the scourge of terrorism.
“Eighteen months ago, I was privileged to lead a Congressional delegation to India, and saw first-hand the challenges that our ally faces, as well as its great potential. During that trip, we engaged key policymakers in thoughtful discussions on a range of issues. We discussed – and debated – a number of issues on which our two countries have legitimate differences, and the mutual respect that was demonstrated was a clear sign of our maturing relationship and the trust between us.
“My lasting impressions were the broad areas of agreement and cooperation, as well as the strength and dynamism of our relationship. The efforts of Prime Minister Singh and the Indian government during this state visit and on a day-to-day basis have only strengthened our strong bond.”