WASHINGTON, Feb 8 : US President Barack Obama was trying to tell India that "freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom," said the US State Department while clarifying Washington's position on the latest dispute between the two democracies.
President Obama said at an annual prayer breakfast in Washington earlier this week that he and First Lady Michelle Obama visited India last month and found it "an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity."
But he said that India was also "a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs."
Such "acts of intolerance," he said, "would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation."
His comments caused a bitter reaction in New Delhi and on Saturday, the Indian government responded with a sharp jibe.