The US on Thursday dismissed a media report that ambassador Eric Garcetti had briefed his team that India-US relations could get worse over a diplomatic row with Canada, saying the envoy is focused on deepening the multi-faceted partnership with New Delhi.
National Security Daily, a newsletter from Politico, had cited unnamed US state department officials to report that India-US ties could “become more fraught in the near term” because of the row triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation that Indian government agents were linked to the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“The US embassy dismisses these reports. Ambassador Garcetti is working hard every day to deepen the partnership between the people and governments of the United States and India,” the US embassy spokesperson said.
“As his personal engagement and public schedule demonstrates, Ambassador Garcetti and the US mission to India are working every day to advance the important, strategic and consequential partnership we have with India,” the spokesperson added.
The report by National Security Daily quoted the state department official as saying that some members of the Joe Biden administration “believe its relationship with [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi could become more fraught in the near term”.
The report said that Garcetti had “told his in-country team that, because of the diplomatic spat with Canada, relations between India and the US could get worse for a time”. Garcetti also said “the US may need to reduce its contacts with Indian officials for an undefined period of time”, the report added.
India has already dismissed Trudeau’s allegation as “absurd” and India and Canada have carried out tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats. The Indian side has said it is willing to consider any information provided by Canada on the issue.
The row has left India-Canada relations in tatters, and New Delhi has issued an advisory urging its citizens travelling to Canada to exercise “utmost caution” because of “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes”. The Indian side has also asked Canada to withdraw several dozen diplomats in order to ensure parity in mutual diplomatic presence.
Canada’s Western allies, including the US, have sought to strike a balance between the issue of Nijjar’s killing and the need to strengthen relations with India, which is seen by them as an essential counterweight to China. The US has publicly urged India to cooperate in the investigation into the killing but officials have refrained from commenting further on the issue.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rezaul H Laskar is the Foreign Affairs Editor at Hindustan Times. His interests include movies and music.