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Updated: December 11, 2010 00:50 IST

U.S. expresses regret over “frisking” of Ambassador

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. File photo
AP U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. File photo

Expressing regret over the Indian Ambassador to Washington being pulled out of an airport security line and patted down, the U.S. today promised to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

The Obama administration has regretted the humiliating incident that took place on December 4 at the Jackson-Evers International Airport where sari-clad Meera Shankar was about to board a flight to Baltimore after attending the Mississippi State University’s programme.

“We obviously are concerned about it. We will be looking into it and trying to determine both what happened and what we could do to prevent such incidents in the future,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department in joint press conference with her Nigerian counterpart.

According to the Indian Embassy here, the State Department has reached out to Ms. Shankar and regretted the incident.

“The U.S. State Department has reached out to the Ambassador and has regretted what all had happened. The Embassy is in touch with the State Department on this issue,” Indian Embassy spokesman Virander Paul said.

Mr. Paul confirmed that the Ambassador was subjected to the pat down security check last week at the Jackson-Evers International Airport.

Earlier, State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said: “It is our understanding the (Indian) Ambassador was pulled out for secondary screening, and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has indicated they’re prepared to talk about this.”

Mr. Crowley said there are guidelines that have been published on diplomats.

“They are subject to basic security. So everyone at the airport goes through a basic screening,” he said, adding from a TSA standpoint they followed their normal procedures.

“It is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration to assess each passenger and then work each passenger through security based on what they see,” he said, adding that as to the rationale that TSA used for this, he will let them explain it.

External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna has called the pat-down of Shankar “unacceptable” and said the matter would be taken up with the American government.

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