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US says India is home to great diversity of faiths

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New Delhi, Dec 07: The US on Tuesday said that India is the world's largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths. Addressing reporters US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said, "India is the world's largest democracy. It is home to a great diversity of faiths. Our annual report on international religious freedom outlines some of the concerns we've taken note of when it comes to India. And we continue to carefully monitor the religious freedom situation in all countries and that includes India," Price said.

We encourage and will continue to encourage the Indian government to hold its commitment to protecting religious freedom for all, Price said. "We engage officials regularly on steps they can take to advance religious freedom. As the world's two largest democracies, the United States and India, we're also committed to an enduring project," he added.

US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price

Price made the statement after the Biden administration released the names of countries that are designated under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

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"Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern," US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said.

He also said that Cuba and Nicaragua were added to the list of countries of 'Particular Concern,' and China, Iran, Russia, Eritrea, North Korea and Pakistan remain on the list.

Blinken in a statement said, "today, I am announcing designations against Burma, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, the DPRK (North Korea), Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

"I am also placing Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern," Blinken further added.

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The announcement of these designations is in keeping with the values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe, the countries that effectively safeguard this and other human rights are more peaceful, stable and more reliable partners of the United States than those who are not, a report in news agency ANI said.

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