Ottawa believes in having a “strong diplomatic footprint” in India, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said.
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that Ottawa is not aiming to “escalate” tensions with India. His government has stated that “private” conversations are being held in order to preserve a “strong diplomatic footprint” in India, reports NDTV.
Trudeau addressed the media after the Financial Times reported that India wants 41 of the 62 Canadian diplomats out of the country after Trudeau alleged that the Indian government was involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil, it said.
According to CBC News, in response to a question on whether Canada will request India to remove diplomats, he stated, “We’re not looking to escalate, as I’ve said, we’re going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time.”
In a similar vein, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly stated that Ottawa believes in establishing a “strong diplomatic footprint” in India. “We are in contact with the government of India. We take Canadian diplomats’ safety very seriously, and we will continue to engage privately because we think that diplomatic conversations are best when they remain private,” she was quoted as saying by Global News, the report said.
“In moments of tensions – because indeed there are tensions between both our governments more than ever – it’s important that diplomats be on the ground, and that’s why we believe in the importance of having a strong diplomatic footprint in India,” she added.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh separatist leader involved with the Khalistan movement, was killed by masked gunmen in British Columbia in June. The Indian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act labelled the 45-year-old as a “terrorist,” the NDTV report said.
Trudeau accused India of being involved in Nijjar’s death a few weeks ago. “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” he said, adding, “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
This sparked a diplomatic uproar. The claims were described as “absurd” and “motivated” by India. Following this, both Canada and India removed top ambassadors and issued travel cautions.