Published On: Sat, Dec 21st, 2013

Devyani row Need to preserve, protect partnership with India, says US L

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Welcoming the statements of Salman Khurshid on the importance of India-US ties soon after a diplomatic row erupted over the arrest of an Indian diplomat, a senior US official said there is need to “preserve and protect” the partnership.

“I…Point you to the comments of External Affairs Minister Khurshid’s comments earlier today, where he talked about the importance of US-India relations, talked about how valuable they are. And we certainly fully agree that it’s important to preserve and protect our partnership,” the State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Responding to a question, she said, ” it not just about diplomatic ties, we have over USD 90 billion in bilateral trades, we’re supporting thousands of jobs in both of our countries, we share very close counterterrorism cooperation.”

“We are engaged with India, of course, on a range of issues, including Afghanistan, which is often a hot topic in here,” Psaki said.

The transfer of diplomat Devyani Khobragade to India’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations would grant her full-diplomatic immunity temporarily and protect her from any arrest in the US, but the visa fraud case against her would go uninterrupted, US official said.

“For anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status. But it doesn’t retroactively wipe out past discretions,” the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki said yesterday.

“Receiving diplomatic immunity does not nullify any previously existing criminal charges. Those remain on the books. Nor does obtaining diplomatic immunity protect the diplomat from prosecution indefinitely. It relates to the status of a diplomat’s current status for the length of the time of that status,” Psaki said.

Diplomatic immunity means, among other things, that a foreign diplomat is not subject to criminal jurisdiction in the United States for the time they are a diplomat, for the time they have that immunity, she said.

Secretary of State John Kerry plans to call his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid soon as the ties between two sides are too important to be derailed by an “isolated incident” of the arrest of a diplomat, the US State Department said on Friday.

The US has not received any request from India on the transfer of 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

This is expected to provide Khobragade with the necessary diplomatic immunity even as the court cases would continue in New York.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on visa fraud charges as she was dropping her daughter to school and released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

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