Diplomat row: India offers help to US in resolving issues
Devyani Khobragade case dragging on, India today offered help to the US if its “internal processes and laws” were posing any problem in resolving
New Delhi: With the Devyani Khobragade case dragging on, India today offered help to the US if its “internal processes and laws” were posing any problem in resolving the issue even as it asserted that the dignity of India’s diplomacy has to be “accepted and preserved”.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also justified India’s directive to the US for banning commercial activities in its Embassy premises here, saying it is based on “reciprocity and not hostility”.
Describing Khobragade as the “face of Indian diplomacy in the US”, he said India only expects a friendly country like the US to do what a friendly country does.
“Our demand is justice…. If there is a problem in their internal processes and laws…we are willing to help. We must together find a solution. But the bottomline is the dignity of our diplomatic service has to be accepted and preserved by all our friends no matter where in the world,” Khurshid said on the sidelines of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conclave here.
He did not elaborate but his comments came as the Khobragade issue has been dragging on even after she was transferred to India’s Permanent Mission in the UN, where she enjoys full diplomatic immunity. She is facing the deadline of January 13 for her indictment in court.
Speaking against the backdrop of India’s fresh directive to the US, the Minister said, “Reciprocity is an evolving process …when we realize we do not have reciprocity on something, then we do that very thing…we are not hostile…this is only an arrangement based on reciprocity not on hostility.
“Our position is very clear. She is an Indian diplomat. She is the face of Indian diplomacy in US amongst others including our Ambassador. We expect a friendly country like US to do what a friendly country does,” Khurshid said.
The government has asked the embassy to stop commercial activities undertaken under the aegis of the American Community Support Association (ACSA), including restaurant/bar, video club, bowling alley, swimming pool, sports field, beauty parlour and gym.
On another question, Khurshid said he would not like to discuss anything which has to do with Devyani case as it was a subjudice matter in the US.
He, however, said India is in touch with the US State Department and communicating with them on a regular basis.
The Minister went on to add that through the recent steps by the government against the US, India has just given them (the US) a signal that they should not do anything which does not figure in the agreements which both the countries have.
“Whatever facilities we had given to them (US) which was more than what our agreement was, today there is no reason for providing it as there are talks that we would do whatever our law permits and they will do what their law permits…”
“…so we will not do anything more than what our law states….We have just given them a signal that do not do anything which is not there in our agreement…” he said.
Among other directives, the US has also been asked to provide the tax returns filed by it with Indian authorities for commercial activities which are afforded through ACSA to non-diplomatic persons, including private American citizens and their families.
India has cited the provision of such commercial facilities to non-diplomats as a violation of Article 41(3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard.
India has been demanding the withdrawal of the case against her and an apology from the US for the treatment meted out to the 39-year-old diplomat, including a strip search and detention with criminals after her arrest.