Hillary shares Jayalalithaa's concern over condition of Sri Lankan Tamils

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday shared Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's concern over the plight of internally-displaced Sri Lankan Tamils living in camps and told her that the U.S. was looking at “innovative and creative ideas” in breaking the impasse.

Ms. Clinton's response came when Ms. Jayalalithaa observed that even though the war in Sri Lanka was over two years ago, Tamils in Jaffna were still unable to go back to their homes.

The two leaders exchanged views on a range of issues when Ms. Clinton called on Ms. Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat here. The Secretary of State expressed the hope that the U.S. move would enable the Sri Lankan Tamils to return to their original places of dwelling. The Chief Minister told Ms. Clinton that Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu were being given facilities that were available to Indian citizens.

A State government release said the meeting, which lasted for nearly an hour, was marked by cordiality, goodwill, great warmth and mutual respect.

Congratulating Ms. Jayalalithaa on her impressive electoral victory, Ms. Clinton also commended her on many path-breaking achievements during her previous terms as Chief Minister. She described Ms. Jayalalithaa's achievements as “great success stories.”

Inviting more U.S. investments in the automobile sector in Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the State now enjoyed pre-eminence in automotive/auto components. It was aspiring to become a global hub in the sector and the opportunities were enormous for the Tamil Nadu and the U.S. governments to collaborate.

Referring to Tamil Nadu's plan for establishing 10 solar energy parks of 300 MW each at an estimated investment of $9 billion, the Chief Minister told Ms. Clinton that the two governments could work together to facilitate investment from U.S. companies. She also explained how the governments could join hands in areas such as road infrastructure, development of vocational training institutes and upgrading the Industrial Training Institutes.

Ms. Clinton informed the Chief Minister that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the U.S. had many opportunities for investments in Tamil Nadu. She expressed her desire for a State-to-State programme between Tamil Nadu and the States in U.S. for various industrial and economic programmes.

Ms. Jayalalithaa requested Ms. Clinton to restore the quota of H1B visas, issued by the Chennai U.S. Consulate, to the original level of 1,95,000. As the current quota was very low at 65,000 and the number of applications far exceeded the quota, there was a very high rejection rate.

Invitation to CM

Ms. Clinton invited Ms. Jayalalithaa to visit the U.S., which would enable the Americans to know about the great achievements of Tamil Nadu.