G1 Visa will prove US Keenness to end Row
By Devirupa Mitra | ENS | Published: 01st January 2014 08:58 AM |
After US authorities said visa fraud charges against diplomat Devyani Khobragade won’t be dropped, Ambassador Nancy Powell on Tuesday expressed regret over the “circumstance” of her arrest. Powell’s expression of regret came a day after reports emanated from New York ruling out dropping of charges against the Indian diplomat. In fact, they asserted that more evidence was being gathered for indicting Devyani at the next hearing on Jan 13.
During Monday’s US State Department briefing in Washington, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf repeated that Secretary of State John Kerry and others don’t want the episode over the diplomat to “negatively impact our ties”. “Our bilateral relationship is too important… We’ve had some good conversations with Indian counterparts, and that’s why what we’re doing right now is letting that process play itself out and focusing from our end on moving the relationship forward on the ground and here as well,” she said.
Significantly, US authorities also admitted that if Devyani gets full diplomatic immunity as stipulated under her new position with the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, she will be protected from future arrest or prosecution. Further, as she can’t be summoned to court, legal proceedings will remain frozen during her tenure. She will also be allowed to leave the country, but could be tried once she returns.
According to official sources here, if Khobragade travelled to US on an official passport it would give her full immunity - but will be vulnerable if she goes back on a private visit on an ordinary passport.
Indian officials had repeatedly said they will take the US’ nod for the new visa category for Khobragade as a signal that it was sincere in resolving the row, especially after Delhi felt there was virtually no cooperation from Washington on the matter since it was brought to their notice in June following the maid’s disappearance.
The State Department spokesperson did not give a time-frame on when Devyani’s G-1 visa and identity card documents, which will formally give her full immunity, will be okayed - but said it was “under review”.