Disputing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s actions, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly has emphasised that “diplomacy is always better when conversations remain private.”
On Wednesday (Oct 11), she was asked by the media whether or not Ottawa has downsized the number of its diplomats in India.
Canadian media has reported that “almost all” Canadian diplomats are still posted in India even as the Oct 10 deadline set by New Delhi for some of them to leave has passed two days ago.
Citing an unnamed senior Canadian government source, Canadian media outlet CBC News said “Canada remains in discussions with India, and has allowed the deadline to pass without complying with India’s demand.”
Trudeau’s opposite actions
Even as Mélanie Joly stresses the importance of private diplomacy, Trudeau himself has been raising the matter with foreign leaders, including United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.
When Trudeau dialled MBZ to discuss terror attacks on Israel, he also used the opportunity to discuss India. A readout of the conversation from the Canadian PMO said, “Prime Minister Trudeau provided an update on the situation between Canada and India.”
Watch: India-Canada row: Canada tones down on Nijjar killing row
Later on, Trudeau also brought India up in his conversation with Jordan’s King. The Canadian readout said, “Prime Minister Trudeau provided an update on the situation between Canada and India, underscoring the importance of respecting the rule of law and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
Joly’s statement followed a report in the Financial Times (FT) which indicated that Canada and India were in ongoing discussions regarding the removal of 41 diplomats from India. Earlier reports in Canadian media suggested that several Canadian diplomats had already been reassigned to countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.
This demand for downsizing the diplomatic presence stemmed from the strained relations between the two countries, triggered by Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18.
Trudeau had mentioned “credible allegations” linking Indian agents to the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Nijjar on June 18. Nijjar, a prominent figure in the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice in British Columbia, was killed in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Singh Gurdwara Sahib he presided over in Surrey.
The FT also reported that Joly had a private meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Washington the previous month.
Additionally, it noted that Ottawa was working towards resolving the issue of diplomats losing their immunity, as declared by India.
(With inputs from agencies)