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Ambassador's day out

The US Ambassador, David C. Mulford, was in Kerala with his family for a holiday. PRIYADARSSHINI SHARMA catches up with him during his visit to Fort Kochi



SPICE TRAIL: The U.S. ambassador to India, David C. Mulford, along with is family, explores Jew Street.

IT WAS some catch at the fishing nets in Fort Kochiwhen the US Ambassador to India, David C. Mulford, on a holiday to Kerala, decided to haul the nets. Casting away his official role, he, along with local fishermen, pulled the nets, went across to the hawkers on the beach, bought postcards and was seen distributing pens to children and the fisherfolk on the beach.

`Just for my family'

"These few days in Kerala are just for my family. No official meetings except with you," he said humorously. "We wanted to come down here on a personal visit because we have some family down from America. My wife's mother and her sister, her niece and a lady doctor from Phoenix, Arizona, and her daughter have all come down to India. It is the school break there. We wanted to go up into the hills and visit the lake and the park at Thekkady. We are also going to spend a day on the backwaters."

For him it is a break from his official duties as the ambassador, especially after a spate of high powered visits from Condoleeza Rice's , U.S. Secretary of State and earlier senator, Hilary Clinton. Mr. Mulford said, "My wife and I enjoy travelling and learning new things and meeting new people. We spend our free time together. We are a very close family."

And so here in Kochi the family took off for what they love doing best together, sightseeing.

Listening intently to Shakzil, their tour guide, as he narrated the story of the Ramayana depicted on the murals of the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry, the ambassador was happy to be "in the historic city of Kochi. Well, we wanted to come here. Last year, we visited virtually all of India till we came to Kerala, a month ago. Now we are coming back to finish a quick visit to get a feel of Kochi because we know it's a very important, historic city and we wanted to see the backwaters. We are making a big effort to visit different regions of India. I have travelled to the North East, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and now Kochi."

Investment banker

As an investment banker Mr. Mulford has visited India a number of times in the 1990s and done "some financial business, some privatisation business". In his present capacity he says, "India, I think, is making very important progress with its economic reforms. In the last 15 years it has begun to open up to the world and is obviously now growing much faster and therefore because of a faster growth rate it will make a greater impact in reducing poverty. India has a vision to become a major regional and world power and the U.S. supports that vision and wants to work with India to help achieve that vision."

He believes that Condoleeza Rice's visit, " was an extremely successful one. It was her first visit here and it was important because as you know she is close to the President. He was keen that she should come very early to India to express the importance he attaches to the US-India relationship of which I have spoken about many times.

He wanted to emphasise the importance of that relationship early so she came to discuss some ideas about how we can advance even more comprehensibly that relationship that we have been building by making."

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