Modi in US: PM, Obama discuss extremism challenge

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today discussed the challenges posed by extremism with US President Barack Obama and the two leaders underlined the need to ensure the participation of civil society and minority communities to address the issue, officials said.

The Prime Minister and the President had a very extensive and thoughtful conversation about the rise of extremism and the need for all countries to work together to address this challenge, a senior administration official said.

The two leaders also underlined the need to ensure that the civil society and the minority communities are fully participating in addressing the issue, the official said. However, there was no specific discussion on human rights issues and religious freedom on India, officials said.

“No, I do not believe the subject came up today in the discussions,” Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said. Meanwhile, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing to examine the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedom and opportunities for advancement. Testifying before the Commission, several experts expressed their concern over the human rights condition in India.

In a related development, a bipartisan group of 18 House members – led by Representatives Trent Franks and Betty McCollum– wrote to the House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to prioritize religious freedom in India during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially in light of ongoing violence and harassment against religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

Modi is scheduled to address a joint session of the US Congress today. “We respectfully request that during your meetings with the Prime Minister, the ‘shared value’ of the fundamental right of religious freedom will be a priority in your conversation.