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Religious freedom as important as rights, asserts Nikki Haley

In what is being viewed by some as a strong signal of American priorities, visiting US envoy to United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday asserted that religious freedom is as important as freedom of people and their rights, even as she said her visit was aimed at “solidifying” the partnership between the two democracies. Talking about strength of US-India relationship she said the two countries were oldest democracies that share values of people, freedom and opportunities, adding she was visiting the country to “once again solidify our (the American) love for India”.

Ms. Haley, 46, the daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, is the first Indian-American to serve in a Cabinet-level position in any US presidential administration. She is on her first visit to India after becoming US envoy to the UN. Haley had visited India in late 2014 when she was the South Carolina Governor.

Ms. Haley, who is scheduled to visit religious places in New Delhi including a Temple, a Mosque and a Church, said she is looking forward to an inter-faith tour scheduled in her itinerary for tomorrow. She emphasised the importance of religious freedom, saying, “We think freedom of religion is as important as freedom of rights and freedom of people.”

During her two-day visit, she will meet senior Indian officials, business leaders and students, underscoring America’s “strong alliance” with the country.

Talks between Ms. Haley, the highest ranking Indian-American in the Donald Trump administration, and Indian officials could include a host of topics including India-US strategic ties and significant global developments. Ms. Haley also pointed to opportunities in Indo-US relationship at multiple levels including counter-terrorism and military aspects.  She visited the tomb of Mughal emperor Humayun and termed her visit as coming back home.


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