US' flip flop on 'FDI in retail' issue irks Mamata govt

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Mamata Banerjee
Kolkata, May 8: With West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting in Kolkata on Monday during Hillary’s diplomatic visit to India, the occasion has sparked off a controversy of sorts. While Mamata post her meeting with Hillary stated in a press meet that the issue of FDI and the Teesta pact was not discussed; the US in their statement said that the issue on raising US investment in the state, including the retail sector was very much discussed.

The statement released by the US consulate on the same said, “Touching on issues, ranging from increasing US investment in West Bengal, including the retail sector, US-India relations, regional affairs and strong people-to-people connections, the secretary reaffirmed to the Chief Minister the US desire to work with India and West Bengal to deepen and broaden our partnership.”

The matter has become a bone of contention, with the West Bengal government contradicting the US version of the meeting and stating that the matter of FDI in retail was not discussed. The state government went a step ahead and in a strongly worded communication to the US consul general in Kolkata, Dean Thompson sent by the state Finance Minister Amit Mitra urged him "unequivocally and strongly that the mention of investment in the retail sector be avoided in your press statement".

Mitra argued that Clinton, "did not mention FDI in retail when speaking to the Chief Minister", and added that "there was no further discussion on this specific subject at all".

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