New Delhi: Union Minister Anand Sharma today termed as "unfortunate" the controversy over President Pratibha Patil taking her two grandchildren on a nine-day state visit to Seychelles and South Africa and said the state visits should not be made a matter of controversy.
"It is unfortunate that the President`s visit has been dragged into any such discussion of controversy. Rashtrapati does not undertake a visit on his or her volition, it is always a decision of the government...It is never called into question," Sharma told reporters outside the Parliament.
Sharma was responding to media queries on the President taking her grandchildren along with her during foreign visits.
"Heads of state should be given respect and those state visits should not be made a matter of controversy," the Commerce Minister said.
On a question over ties between India and South Africa, Sharma said, "We two countries are brought together under IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) and we have a deepening arrangement and there are historical relations."