No Hurry in Restoring US Diplomatic Privileges: India - The New Indian Express

No Hurry in Restoring US Diplomatic Privileges: India

Published: 19th December 2013 11:14 PM

Last Updated: 19th December 2013 11:27 PM

India Thursday said it will not immediately take a call on giving back the special privileges to US diplomats that were taken away in a retaliatory measure after the handcuffing and strip search of an Indian envoy in New York.

US Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday evening called up National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to express regret over the arrest and strip search of 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Thursday said the decision to revoke the paring down of privileges to US diplomats would not be taken in a hurry.

"Such decisions are not taken in a hurry. We will study the matter and then take a call," the minister told IANS on the sidelines of an event here.

He said the decision to pare the diplomatic privileges was not done with an "intent to hurt them (US), but because we expect certain courtesies and we return them. These are courtesies, and not rights".

India has asked US diplomats to give back the diplomatic ID cards given to them by the Indian government and return airport passes. India also removed the extra police barricades around the US embassy here.

In a damage control exercise, Kerry had Wednesday evening called up the NSA and expressed concern that this "unfortunate public issue" of the arrest and strip search of Khobragade should not be allowed to hurt the "close and vital" India-US ties.

Asked about his statement on a "conspiracy" behind the arrest of Khobragade, Khurshid suggested there was an effort by "certain people to trap the Indian officer".

"Those who joined hands with them are part of the conspiracy," he said.

Khurshid said Kerry had also sought to speak to him Wednesday but he could not take the call as he was in Gurgaon.

He said the US secretary of state, who is travelling, would be calling again.

Khurshid also said India had invested a lot in the relationship with the US and wanted the good ties to continue.

"Our relationship has a lot of investment. It is not an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly," he said.

India has expressed outrage over the strip and cavity-search of Khobragade, who has been charged with visa fraud and underpaying her nanny.

The issue figured in parliament, with MPs, cutting across party lines, condemning the treatment meted out to the diplomat. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the incident "deplorable".

Khobragade has been transferred to India's Permanent Mission at the UN in New York, which would provide her with more diplomatic immunity.

 

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