• Thursday, November 30, 2023


Did Indian, American foreign ministers discuss Canada row? US stays mum

One report said US secretary of state Antony Blinken raised the issue with Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during their talks.

Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar speaks with US secretary of state Antony Blinken at the state department in Washington DC, US, on Thursday, September 28, 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE all eyes were on the meeting between Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday (28) which took amid a massive diplomatic clash between the governments of Canada and India over the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June, the US state department made zero mention of the Canada issue.

The development comes even as Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who alleged India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar in his country’s parliament last week, claimed that Blinken would raise the matter with his Indian counterpart during their talks. The Canadian leader had said in Quebec on Thursday that the Americans would certainly raise the issue with the Narendra Modi government when asked about the US’s stance.

However, Reuters reported citing an unnamed American official that the US diplomat did raise the matter with Jaishnkar with whom he discussed issues related to global developments, including the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, the memorandum of understanding of which was unveiled during the G20 summit held in India earlier this month.

“Blinken raised the Canadian matter in his meeting, (and) urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada’s investigation,” the official was quoted as saying.

The statement issued by the US state department made no mention of the Canada episode.

According to it, Blinken and Jaishankar talked over a full range of issues, including significant outcomes of India’s G20 presidency this year.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today in Washington, D.C. Secretary Blinken and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar 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,” the statement added.

Jaishankar said the talks with Blinken also laid the groundwork for a 2+2 meeting which will be held soon.

“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,” the Indian minister posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday (29).

New Delhi will host the fifth edition of India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, Jaishankar said on Thursday. The foreign and defence ministers of both countries will meet during the dialogue which is likely to take place in November.

The US, which is friend to both Canada and India, has appeared to have taken a cautious approach when it comes to the diplomatic row between the allies. According to political analysts, the US-led West sees India as a key counterweight to the growing influence of China and hence doesn’t want to take any stance that would alienate New Delhi.

The Canadian premier, who is yet to publicly share any evidence about India’s alleged involvement in Nijjar’s murder, said last week he had shared the “credible allegations” with New Delhi “many weeks ago.”

Jaishankar on Tuesday (26) said his government has told its Canadian counterpart that it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on assassination.

Last week, Blinken and US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington was “deeply concerned” about the allegations raised by the Canadian leader.

India strongly reacted to Trudeau’s allegations calling them “absurd” and “motivated” and even suspended issuing visas to Canadian citizens.

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