Hours before S Jaishankar and US secretary of state Antony Blinken met in Washington DC amid tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had been told that Blinken would address the matter and encourage his Indian counterpart to cooperate with an investigation into the June 28 incident.
“The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal on Thursday.
“This is something all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule, need to take seriously and we are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way anchored in the rule of law with all partners, including in our approach with the government of India,” the Canadian PM said.
Trudeau on India-Canada relationship
On ties with India, Trudeau said Canada was still committed to building a closer relationship, despite “credible allegations” of the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of the Khalistani terrorist, Canada-based National Post reported.
Pointing to the increasing influence of India worldwide, Trudeau said it is “extremely important” that Canada and its allies continue to engage with India.
“India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. And as we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy, just last year, we are very serious about building closer ties with India,” he told reporters.
“At the same time, obviously, as a rule of law country, we need to emphasise that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts of this matter,” National Post quoted Trudeau as saying.
Trudeau’s stunning allegations
On September 18, Trudeau told the Canadian House of Commons that Canadian security agencies had been actively pursuing “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the government of India and the killing of Nijjar.
Trudeau also claimed that he had brought those concerns directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit and that India’s top intelligence and security officials were informed of Canada’s “deep concerns”, National Post reported.
Trudeau then urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada “to get to the bottom of this matter.”
However, India has outrightly rejected the allegations, calling them “absurd” and “motivated”.
India has suspended its visa services in Canada, following Trudeau’s allegations of Indian involvement in the killing. Amid strained ties, India issued an advisory for its citizens and those who are travelling to Canada to exercise “utmost caution in view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence” in the country.
S Jaishankar and Anthony Blinken meeting
Neither Jaishankar nor Blinken spoke to the controversy that has disrupted Canada-India relations in very brief comments to reporters, but a US official said the topic was raised, news agency AP reported. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks, said Blinken encouraged India to cooperate with the Canadian probe.
“Great to meet my friend US Secretary of State @SecBlinken at State Department today. A wide ranging discussion, following up on PM @narendramodi’s June visit. Also exchanged notes on global developments. Laid the groundwork of our 2 2 meeting very soon,” Jaishankar posted on X on Friday.
After the meeting, Miller said in a statement that Blinken and Jaishankar had “discussed a full range of issues, including key outcomes of India’s G20 presidency, and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and its potential to generate transparent, sustainable, and high-standard infrastructure investments.”
They also covered “the continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2 2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defence, space, and clean energy,” Miller said. The G20 refers to the Group of 20 summit that was recently held in New Delhi and was attended by President Joe Biden. The “2 2” dialogue is a format for meetings between the U.S. and Indian foreign and defence ministers.
(With inputs from agencies)
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