NEW DELHI: US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley, who is on a two-day trip to India, on Wednesday said that religious freedom was as important as "freedom of rights and freedom of people."
Haley, whose parents emigrated from Punjab, is on her first visit to India after being appointed as ambassador to the UN. While details about her schedule were sparse, she is expected to meet senior Indian officials, heads of NGO, business leaders, students and religious leaders of various faiths.
Early Wednesday, accompanied by US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster and other senior embassy officials, she visited Humayan’s tomb in Delhi. "Humayun’s tomb is a reminder of how much we value culture and how much India values culture. The preservation that has happened here is a reminder that we all remember where we came from and we have to preserve it for the future," she said. "It makes my heart happy to be back in India, it is as beautiful as I remember it to be. Its always good to be back home. My parents said I was crazy to come at this time of the year because it is so hot. But, I will tell you that the heat is worth it to be back in India," she said.
She also declared that her visit was aimed at strengthening the Indo-US relationship, which has been growing rapidly despite hiccups caused by President Donald Trump’s erratic behaviour. Her visit comes days before External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visit to Washington for the first 2+2 dialogue with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis on July 6.
"In this day and time we see more and more reasons for India and the US to come together. I am here to once again solidify our love for India, our belief in the friendship India and the US have and our willingness to make that relationship even more stronger," she said. "We see those opportunities between the US and India in a multiple level of ways whether in counter terrorism, whether it is the fact that we want to continue democratic opportunities, whether it is a fact that we want to start to work together more strongly in military aspects."
Later Wednesday, she visited a children’s home supported by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi to discuss the challenges of child labor, trafficking & sexual abuse. “We heard many stories from children who thankfully have been freed & encouraged them to pay it forward by helping children in similar situations,” she tweeted later.