US diplomat caught in row joins cultural sensitivity course

Tamil Nadu map
Washington, Aug 18: A US diplomat posted at the Chennai Consulate, who was caught in a row over her remarks of "dirty and dark" Tamilians, has enrolled herself in a cultural sensitivity course.

US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao, who had expressed regret for her comments, has "voluntarily enrolled in a cross-cultural communications and understanding class," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters today.

"The sense was that this class would do some good," Nuland said.

"We consider the comments absolutely unacceptable. I think you saw that she apologized almost immediately. She's voluntarily enrolled in a cultural sensitivity course. But obviously, they're unacceptable and inconsistent with core American values," she said.

"They did not reflect the best of American values in terms of tolerance for difference and diversity," Nuland said in response to a question.

In a speech in Chennai last week, Chao recalled her train journey some 20 years ago in India and said; "I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to Orissa. But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination... and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians."

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha wrote a letter to US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre and demanded an apology for the inappropriate remarks. The US Consulate termed it as inappropriate.

"During the speech Chao made an inappropriate comment. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent," the Consulate replied said in a statement.


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