The US on Saturday continued to insist that senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade will not get retroactive immunity even after her transfer to the Indian mission at the UN even as the two sides said they would remain engaged to resolve the issue.
"When immunity is conferred, it does not retroactively take effect at a previous point in time but relates solely to the diplomat's current status," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said yesterday.
"So, I think some of the confusion here has been if there is a change in status, does that mean that there is a clean slate from past charges. There's not," Psaki said.
"For anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status," the State Department spokesperson said.
However, the US assertion that retroactive immunity is not possible flies in the face of precedents such as the one involving a Saudi prince in 1982 when he was accused of holding an Egyptian woman against her will in Dade County in Florida state.
Observers say that at the time of the incident, Prince Abdulaziz had no diplomatic credentials. But three weeks later, the State Department granted Abdulaziz and his family full diplomatic immunity.
The Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Dade County's counter claims and held that the Prince had been eligible for diplomatic status at the time of the incident even if he had not received it.
The Court ruling, in effect, endorsed the concept of retroactive immunity. The spokesperson said the two countries were trying to resolve the issue. "As you know, we are engaged and in touch with our Indian counterparts. The Secretary has had a call. Under Secretary Sherman has been engaged. And we're continuing the conversation with our Indian counterparts privately.
"We've also put out a range of statements over the past couple of days that I would certainly point you to. I also wanted to point you to the comments of External Affairs Minister (Salman) Khurshid's comments earlier today where he talked about the importance of US-India relations, talked about how valuable they are," Psaki said.
"And we certainly fully agree that it's important to preserve and protect our partnership," Psaki said. "So we will continue these discussions through diplomatic channels, through private conversations," she said. Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to call Khurshid soon to