Diplomat Devyani Khobragade's arrest has caused hiccups in ties with India: US

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: Jan 4 2014, 15:10pm hrs
Devyani KhobragadeDeputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade was arrested by US law enforcement authorities on visa fraud charges and released on a USD 250,000 bond after she pleaded not guilty.
The United States has agreed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has caused hiccups in the bilateral relationship.

"I mean, when you hear the Secretary (of State) express regret about something, that means that everything hasn't gone as it should," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said yesterday.

Her comments comes after Singh termed the arrest of Khobragade in New York as "temporary aberrations" in Indo-US strategic relationship and said diplomacy should be given chance to resolve the issue.

"Our Government attaches highest priority to strengthening the strategic partnership between our two countries. There have recently been some hiccups, but I sincerely believe that these are temporary aberrations and diplomacy should be given a chance to resolve these issues that have arisen," Singh said at a rare news conference in New Delhi yesterday.

Khobragade, the 39-year-old 1999 batch IFS officer, was arrested in New York on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard and subjected to strip and cavity search, which had sparked outrage in India and resulted in government enforcing strict "reciprocity" and withdrawing extra privileges.

The US has been describing this as an isolated incident and have been saying that it wants to move forward.

"This isolated episode is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful ties that we share," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last month.

"What we're focused on now is getting the relationship back on really strong footing. We just have too much important work to do together going forward on a host of issues in the region and around the world," Harf said yesterday.

The US continues to review the paper work that the State Department received from the United Nations on the transfer of Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, which would give her diplomatic immunity.

"There's a judicial process, a legal process underway, and I don't have any estimates for how long that will all take to play out.

There's also our diplomatic discussions as well. Just nothing new to announce or guess about here today," Harf said.

Meanwhile, Harf said US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal is looking forward to her maiden visit to India. Schedule of her visit is yet to be announced.

"Our Assistant Secretary certainly looks forward to visiting India as soon as possible," Harf said.