An unseemly controversy over some remarks attributed to Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor in a section of the media was put to rest by the Minister himself here on Sunday.
In a brief clarification, Mr. Tharoor said his remark was misread in a section of the media here on Saturday evening. “What I basically said was that Saudi Arabia is a valuable interlocutor for India. Any other interpretation was neither meant nor warranted,” said Mr. Tharoor in the clarification.
Mr. Tharoor is accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a three-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom.
In comments that evoked strong condemnation from BJP and CPI, Mr. Tharoor had said, “We feel that Saudi Arabia of course has a long and close relationship with Pakistan but that makes Saudi Arabia even a more valuable interlocutor for us.”
“When we tell them about our experience, Saudi Arabia listens as somebody who is not in anyway an enemy of Pakistan but rather is a friend of Pakistan and therefore I am sure will listen with sympathy and concern to a matter of this nature,” he said when asked by reporters what kind of cooperation he expected from Riyadh.
Just hours after making the remarks, Mr. Tharoor, who earlier also landed in controversies for tweeting on the government’s austerity measures and immigration policy, also took to Twitter to clear the air.
He tweeted: “If I speak to u, u are my interlocutor! I mentioned the Saudis as OUR interlocutors, i.e. the people we are here to speak to. Some misinterpretn.”
“Good day of mtgs, marred in some Indian media by misunderstanding of word ‘interlocutor’. An interlocutor is someone u spk to, nothing more,” he added.
Mr. Tharoor also said, “No chance of my saying Saudi Arabia should be a mediator. Never said that or anything like it.”