Cautioning that nothing could be more dangerous than people going after each other for religious reasons, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on Monday said governments should stay above religious preferences in a democracy.
Rice, while speaking at the US-India strategic partnership forum here, expressed concern over the safety of religious minorities across the world and asserted that their protection is becoming a problem worldwide.
There are lot of people in the US who worry as they see rise in hate crimes against certain religious people, she added.
There is "nothing more emotional, more dangerous than when people go after each other for religious reasons and to the degree that the state can stay above it and say you are American or Indian or whatever your religious preferences that is absolutely critical for functioning any state particularly a democratic state," she said.
Her remarks came in response to a question that there was more and more emphasis on religion across the world.
"We will all suffer badly if we go down this road. And I just hope that every leader is cognisant of whatever the pull there may be in speaking of religion in politics," Rice said, while adding that though she is "deeply religious", it never occurred to her to impose her faith on others when she was in position of power.
Separation of state from religion is preferable, she added.
When Rice was asked about her advice for India-US trade deal negotiators, Rice said, "...get the deal," while adding that this region is challenged by a growing and sophisticated China.
"My advice for trade negotiators is get a deal....I would not want to see this possibility elude us when so much is going on in the region...this region is challenged by a growing and sophisticated China," she said.
However, she added neither of the two countries wants to isolate China, but they should take advantage of the possibilities for US-India partnership to help this region reflect upon the values of openness for sovereignty for freedom of navigation.
"Let's not get tied by the new trade agreement," she said.
Rice, who was the secretary of the state when India signed the nuclear deal with US, said it opened up possibilities for more sophisticated India-US relationship.
The deal was not only about civil nuclear power it was about removing number of the constraints on the ability of the United States and India to have defence cooperation and others, she added.
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