US diplomat in row over remarks on Tamilians

A US diplomat was caught in a row after her remarks of "dirty and dark" Tamilians, prompting the American Consulate here to term them as "inappropriate".

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2011, 13:53 PM IST

Chennai: A US diplomat was caught in a row
after her remarks of "dirty and dark" Tamilians, prompting the
American Consulate here to term them as "inappropriate".

"I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to Orissa. But,
after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the
destination... and my skin became dirty and dark like the
Tamilians," US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao said, going down the
memory lane two decades ago when she was a student.

In a speech at the SRM University on Friday, Chao also
said, "Some 20 years ago, I was a student like you and had an
opportunity to do a semester abroad. I chose to come to India,
fascinated by the culture and religion. I travelled across
villages to understand the culture better. I was amazed at the
graciousness and friendliness of the people."

Going into a damage-control mode following her
controversial remarks, the US Consulate here said, "During the
speech Ms Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms Chao deeply
regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that
was certainly not her intent".

The Consulate said in a release that the diplomat was
describing "positive memories from her own study abroad
experiences in India 23 years ago".

As US Secretary Hillary Clinton recently noted, the
US-India partnership was based on shared values of democracy,
liberty and respect for religious and cultural diversity, the
Consulate release said.

"The US Consulate in Chennai and the US Mission in
India are committed to upholding these shared values", it
said.

PTI