Efforts to resolve the Indo-US diplomatic standoff over senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade’s arrest continued Saturday with both sides stating that they are in “conversation” to find a way out. Publicly, their common refrain was that the bilateral relationship was extremely valuable, though Washington continued to harp on their line that Khobragade would not enjoy diplomatic immunity “retroactively”. She has since been transferred to the Indian Mission to the UN to give her full immunity.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid maintained his conciliatory tone when he termed the relationship “extremely exceptionally valuable”, a sentiment reciprocated by the US State Department which said, “It is important to preserve and protect our partnership”.
Khurshid told reporters in New Delhi, “We are in a conversation at different levels. Let the conversation go to its logical conclusion.”
In Washington, a State Department spokesperson said the US was “continuing the conversation with our Indian counterparts privately” to resolve the situation.
Asking the US to “understand the value of the relationship”, Khurshid asked whether it was “unreasonable” for India to expect Washington to allow its diplomat to serve with dignity. The State Department maintained that even if there was a change in the status of Khobragade from being Deputy Consul General with limited immunity to being posted to the UN mission where she gets full immunity, there would not be a “clean slate” from the past charges.
Khurshid, who was criticised for allegedly not helping the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar, said, “People do not like the idea that I said if I do not get justice for my diplomat in the US, I will not comeback to Parliament. Was that a terrible thing to say. There are people who think I am being dramatic in saying that. Somebody said to me there are 50,000 Muslims in Muzaffarnagar and you did not say you will not comeback to Parliament if they were not given justice. I believe that giving them justice is in my control, my right within democratic governments of UP and India and we will do that,” he said. “It is for me to be able to exercise the same right with the US,” Khurshid said.
In an apparent attack on Preet Bharara, the US prosecutor handling the case, the minister said, “There is no reason why a conversation of high vault and high status that we have with the US should get interrupted. But it gets interrupted because there are