The US on Thursday rejected the report that claimed that the diplomatic face-off between India and Canada could worsen ties between New Delhi and Washington, DC. US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti reportedly told his team in the US that relations between India and the United States could get worse due to India and Canada current tensions.
According to a report in US-based publication Politico, an unnamed State Department official said Garcetti told his team that “the US may need to reduce its contacts with Indian officials for an undefined period of time”.
Denying the claims mentioned in the report, titled ‘Why Biden’s mum on the India-Canada spat’, the US Embassy said ambassador Garcetti is working hard every day to deepen the partnership between the people and governments of the US and India.
“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. As his personal engagement and public schedule demonstrates, Ambassador Garcetti and the U.S. Mission to India are working every day to advance the important, strategic, and consequential partnership we have with India,” a statement issued by the US Embassy in India stated.
According to Politico, when asked about the US envoy’s reported conversation with his team, a State Department spokesperson who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that “We don’t have anything for you on this”.
Diplomatic relations between India and Canada took a hit recently after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau alleged the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was shot dead by two masked gunmen on June 18 in British Columbia. India responded firmly, dismissing the allegations as ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated.’
On October 3, India told Canada to withdraw around 40 diplomats by October 10 amid the snowballing diplomatic row between the two countries, The Financial Times reported. India has reportedly threatened to strip off the diplomatic immunity of any Canadian diplomat if they remained in the country after October 10.
Canada has 62 diplomats in India, while New Delhi has told them to reduce the headcount to 41 at their high commission.
“Declaring more Canadian diplomats personae non gratae wouldn’t help the situation and would make reducing the emotions associated with this disagreement more difficult,” Peter Boehm, chair of the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade told FT.
India also announced temporarily suspending the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens.
The India-Canada diplomatic crisis has put the US in an awkward position as both the countries are crucial at this point. In the past, US had said the allegations brought by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau that India played a role in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar are serious and it wants India to cooperate with Canada in the probe.
During his recent visit to the US, External affairs minister S Jaishankar met NSA Jake Sullivan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and discussed the Canada issue.
In its recent official statement on the issue, the White House said the Canadian allegations regarding India’s development in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar are serious and need to be investigated fully. “We will certainly leave it to those two countries to talk about their bilateral relationship,” John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House, said.
Earlier, The Washington Post had reported that Canadian officials had sought public condemnation of Nijjar’s murder from its allies, including the US, ahead of the G20 summit, but found them reluctant.