9:39 pm - Tuesday December 12, 2017

Devyani Khobragade case: US for talks, resolution to ‘preserve and protect’ ties

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Devyani Khobragade case: US for talks, resolution to 'preserve and protect' ties
Devyani Khobragade case: US for talks, resolution to 'preserve and protect' ties

Though the diplomatic row between India and the US in the Devyani Khobragade case continues, officials on both sides launched efforts on Friday to find a way out in the case involving the arrest and alleged mistreatment of the Indian diplomat last week. India has demanded all charges against the diplomat be dropped and has sought an apology from the US over the matter. “Times have changed,” a senior minister said.

Welcoming the statements of Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid on the importance of India-US ties, a senior US official yesterday said there is a need to “preserve and protect” the partnership between the two countries.

“It’s not just about diplomatic ties. We have over $90 billion in bilateral trade. We’re supporting thousands of jobs in both of our countries,” Jen Psaki, US State Department spokesperson, said.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is also expected to call Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid soon to discuss the case. Mr Kerry’s earlier attempt at getting Mr Khurshid on line could not succeed.

The US State Department, however, has ruled out dropping of what it called the “very serious” allegations against Ms Khobragade. India has demanded for all charges against the diplomat to be dropped and has sought an apology from the US over the matter.

Reacting to Washington’s refusal to withdraw charges against Ms Khobragade, Salman Khurshid said his “duty and entitlement is to be in conversation with my counterpart who is Secretary Kerry. At the lower level, there has been contact between the State Department and the Foreign Secretary.”

The United Nations today said it has received notification from India to register Devyani Khobragade as a member of the country’s Permanent Mission in New York and the request will be processed according to ‘standard procedures’. The position entitles the 39-year-old diplomat to full immunity in the US.

India has also rubbished charges by the lawyer of Ms Khobragade’s domestic help, Sangeeta Richard, on whose complaint the diplomat was arrested. Speaking to NDTV, Ms Richard’s lawyer, Dana Sussman, yesterday alleged that her client was not given paid leave and was made to work seven days in a week. “India tried to silence and intimidate my client and her family,” Ms Sussman said.

India has accused US authorities of conspiracy and immigration fraud by allowing the family of Sangeeta Richard to move to America. Ms Richard’s husband and two children flew out of the US on December 10, two days before the senior consular officer’s arrest.

Ms Khobragade, who is now free on bail, was detained over allegations that she paid the domestic help a small fraction of New York’s minimum wage and lied about the latter’s salary in a visa application.

After her arrest last week, Ms Khobragade was strip-searched, swabbed for DNA and cavity-searched and was then placed in a cell with drug addicts

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