Friday, April 27, 2007
Breaking his silence following the outcry over the kissing controversy involving Shilpa Shetty, Hollywood star Richard Gere offered to apologise if he has ‘offended’ anyone.
"What is most important to me is that my intentions as an HIV/AIDS advocate be made clear and that my friends in India understand that it has never been nor could it ever be, my intention to offend you. If that had happened, of course it is easy for me to offer a sincere apology," he said in a statement.
Gere's comments came a day after a Jaipur court issued an arrest warrant against him for planting a kiss on Shilpa's cheeks in public during an AIDS awareness programme in Delhi a fortnight back.
In his statement addressed to ‘My dear Indian friends’ and released to the press, Gere said, "to be honest, this recent media storm has taken me by surprise."
Gere also said he felt sorry that Shilpa had to carry the burden following the controversy for no fault of hers.
"What we thought was a very successful HIV/AIDS event has taken a sad turn. The evening and event in question was intended to celebrate courageous people and partnerships in the supremely important fight against HIV/AIDS, a worldwide pandemic which has afflicted over 5 million Indians and is still increasing," he said.
Lauding Shetty, Gere said, "Shilpa Shetty is a courageous and wonderful woman who deserves high praise and support for her singular leadership against HIV/AIDS."
"I assure you, I have utmost respect for her, and she knows this. Of course, I've felt terrible that she should carry a burden that is no fault of hers. The burden is mine and no one else's," he said.