Although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said ahead of her meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee here on Monday that both Foreign Direct Investment in retail and the sharing of the Teesta waters between India and Bangladesh were “certainly on the list” she wanted to take up, Ms. Banerjee denied that there was any discussion on these issues.
“I will certainly raise the United States' desire to open the market to multi-brand retail,” Ms. Clinton said at an interactive session at a school before leaving for the State Secretariat, where she met Ms. Banerjee.
A press release issued later by the office of Public Affairs, U.S. Consulate General, pointed out that among the issues discussed at the meeting was U.S. investment in West Bengal, including in the retail sector.
“The more open India becomes over time, the greater the rise in the standard of living and opportunity for the broader number of people. But I also understand politics and I understand how lots of these decisions are difficult,” Ms. Clinton said.
Speaking on the issue of sharing of waters of the Teesta between India and Bangladesh, which fell through at the last minute last year following objections raised by Ms. Banerjee, she said water was an issue that would become “increasingly contentious” around the world.
“The United States does not have any interest in how the water issues are resolved,” Ms. Clinton said, but added that the future is dismal “unless water is put on the list to be dealt with.”
However, Ms. Banerjee denied that either of the issues was discussed at the meeting.
“Teesta? No, they did not raise it. FDI? No, they did not raise it,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists after the meeting, adding that the discussion on some “strategic matters” could not be revealed.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Clinton had said she was always happy to meet with a woman leader because, having been in politics for the last eight years, “I know how difficult it is for women to be elected anywhere.”
The U.S. Secretary of State said she felt a common bond with women in politics, irrespective of their political beliefs.
“Some women in public office, I agree with their public policies; other women, I have disagreements with,” she said.