'Diplomat Case Becomes Source of Contention Within Obama Administration' - The New Indian Express

'Diplomat Case Becomes Source of Contention Within Obama Administration'

Published: 08th January 2014 05:38 PM

Last Updated: 08th January 2014 05:38 PM

The arrest of an Indian diplomat on charges of visa fraud in New York has become a major crisis in US-India relations and a source of contention within the Obama administration, according to an American media report.            

"Visa fraud case of Devyani Khobragade roils US-India relations, sparks new legal dispute,' headlined The Washington Post in a news report yesterday in which the daily described the issue as a major crisis between the two countries.

 "The arrest last month of Devyani Khobragade, 39, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, on charges of submitting fraudulent US visa documents for her Indian maid, has become a major crisis in US-India relations and a source of contention within the Obama administration," The Post reported.  

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

India has been demanding the withdrawal of the case against her and an apology from the US for the treatment meted out to the diplomat, including a strip search and detention with criminals after her arrest.            

According to the Post, the efforts of the State Department and Indian government to resolve the case diplomatically would be made significantly more difficult once Khobragade is indicted, and she has clearly pinned her hopes on avoiding that step.           

A conviction could also hamper any future plans that Khobragade, whose husband is a US citizen, may have to visit or reside in the United States, it noted.     

In another article, The American Interest said the continued hard feelings in India suggest that the dispute could have a long-term impact on a relationship both sides say is crucial.           

Coming to some kind of mutually face-saving compromise on the current case would be a good idea, and if nothing else it is useful to remember that President Barack Obama has the power to pardon any offenses under US law, it said.

"More important, the US needs to sit down with the Indian government and work out a mutually acceptable understanding that will govern the status of diplomats and consular officials in both countries on the basis of reciprocity," The American Interest wrote.

"America's goal here is not to win an argument about the merits of this case. It is to deepen our relationship with India without doing violence to our own principles and laws," it said.

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