6:08 am - Thursday November 5, 2015

US hopes diplomat’s arrest won’t hit bilateral ties

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John Kerry calls Shivshankar Menon to express regret about Devyani's treatment; defends US laws
John Kerry calls Shivshankar Menon to express regret about Devyani's treatment; defends US laws

 The U.S. has expressed hope that the diplomatic row over the arrest of Indian Deputy Consul-General in New York will not affect bilateral ties with India, which has strongly reacted to the treatment meted out to the senior diplomat terming it “absolutely unacceptable”.

After India took up the matter with the U.S. Ambassador in New Delhi, the State Department said it was handling the issue.

“We are handling this incident through law enforcement channels. We have a long-standing partnership with India, and we expect that partnership will continue,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told PTI.

India’s Deputy Consul-General Devyani Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody on Thursday and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty.

The State Department, however, refused to comment on the specifics of the case, describing it as a pending matter in the court.

The 39-year-old Ms. Khobragade’s arrest, only a day after Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, accompanied by the Joint Secretary in-charge of Americas division in External Affairs Ministry, concluded her highly successful Washington trip, has caused a major diplomatic crisis between India and the U.S.

Lodging a strong protest against the arrest of its Deputy Consul-General in New York, India has conveyed to the U.S. that such kind of a treatment to its diplomat is “absolutely unacceptable”.

“It was conveyed in no uncertain terms that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement in Washington on Friday after the Charge d’Affaires Taranjit Singh Sandhu met senior officials of the State Department.

“It was emphasised that Dr. Devyani Khobragade is a diplomat, who is in the U.S. in pursuance of her duties and hence is entitled to the courtesy due to a diplomat in the country of her work. She is also a young mother of two small children,” the statement said.

“Government of India is shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities,” it said.

Mr. Sandhu also asked the U.S. officials to resolve the matter at the earliest during the meeting.

In Delhi, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoned U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell on Friday to convey India’s “shock” over the “absolutely unacceptable” treatment meted out to the senior Indian diplomat.

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