Roemer Snubs Separatists, Says Chief Minister Is Elected Leader18 March 2011
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Unlike his predecessors, US Ambassador Timothy Roemer Friday had a new and clear message for Kashmir: “the Chief Minister is the person who represents people and the purpose of the visit is to meet the elected leader”. Roemer’s two-day itinerary didn’t include any meetings with the separatist leadership. He only met CM Omar Abdullah in Jammu on Thursday before flying to Srinagar, where he visited Hazratbal shrine and Shankaracharaya temple. He later took a boat ride on the Dal Lake and this morning, he was driven under unprecedented security cover to the Delhi Public School on the outskirts of the city. Roemer is the first US Ambassador to visit Kashmir in a decade. He had earlier travelled to Leh soon after the flash floods. Skipping the Kashmir issue, Roemer, during his visit to the school, told the children: “India is a great country” and talked about “Gandhiji’s non-violence and civil disobedience”. He emphasised the importance of education and hoped the children would make “India strong”. Roemer’s speech as well as his itinerary are a clear departure from the past. During their Kashmir visits, earlier US Ambassadors would prefer an ambiguous stance, treading cautiously to balance the competitive political stand of separatists and India. When asked why he didn’t meet the separatists, Roemer said “the purpose of the visit is to see the elected leader. The Chief Minister is the person who represents the people... Secondly, I can’t meet everybody here.... We are to get a feel of the people, of the students, of future leaders.” Roemer refused to comment on the WikiLeaks cables. “... our government didn’t make any comment about these cables. We don’t do that... anywhere in the world and I am not going to do that in Srinagar,” he said.