In the wake of allegations that it was arm-twisting India into letting Dow Chemicals escape liability for the clean-up, or remediation, of the Bhopal gas disaster site, the United States on Thursday denied the contents of a leaked email on the subject from a senior Obama administration official could be construed as a threat.
On Wednesday, The Hindu and other newspapers published details of an email exchange between Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Advisor of the U.S. Dr. Ahluwalia sought Mr. Froman's help in ensuring U.S. support for Indian borrowing at the World Bank. Mr. Froman said he would look into the matter. But added: "There is a lot of concern about the noise around Dow..We hope this does not have a chilling effect on our investment relationship."
On Thursday, Mr. Froman issued a statement saying, "I want to make clear that I was not making any link between what are two separate and distinct issues nor issuing a ‘threat’ of any sort – any assertion to the contrary is absolutely wrong, both in intent and in fact".
He added that he was "dismayed" that "anything I wrote could be interpreted as minimizing the toll of the Bhopal disaster... Resolving the Bhopal issue is for the Indian people to decide. The U.S. does not seek to interfere in this process".