Mulford tries to play down Bush’s Indian remarks

May 5th, 2008 - 11:53 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Hoping to assuage angry feelings kicked off by US President George Bush’s remarks linking the Indian middle class to high global food prices, the US Ambassador David Mulord Monday said that “hostile political commentary is not productive”. Mulford’s statement also comes a day before the UPA-Left meeting on the India-US civil nuclear deal.

“I believe that this is a time for increased cooperation among nations to solve this problem and that hostile political commentary is not productive,” Mulford said.

He noted that Bush had supported the progress made by developing countries at increasing food production and nutrition and described the US president as a “great friend and admirer” of India.

On 2 May, President Bush at a public meeting in Maryland said that rising prosperity was linked to high global food prices.

“So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up,” the US president had said.

The remarks were roundly criticised by political parties here, with Defence Minister A.K. Antony describing them as a “cruel joke”.

Mulford clarified that Bush was only expressing concern about spiralling food grain prices world wide and called on all nations to help in fighting hunger. He added that the US had already increased food aid contributions to $5 billion for the next two years.

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