Hours after authorities in New York claimed that charges of visa fraud against diplomat Devyani Khobragade won’t be dropped, US Ambassador Nancy Powell on Tuesday expressed regret over the “circumstance” of her arrest. For its part, India wondered how the US overlooked the fact that she was accredited to the UN since August, which gave her full diplomatic immunity.
In a new year message video, Powell admitted that “forward movement (in bilateral relations) has been jolted by very different reactions to issues involving one of your consular officers and her domestic worker”. “I join Secretary (of State John) Kerry in expressing our regret for the circumstances of the consular officer’s arrest, but we believe that we can look forward to continuing to expand our bilateral relations,” she said.
This, however, falls short of India’s demand for an unconditional apology and withdrawal of all charges against Khobragade.
In Delhi, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said it was unlikely that Khobragade’s UN accreditation could remain “unknown to the host government in terms of information flow”. “I will find it very surprising that an international organisation does not, periodically, inform the host government about those who they have accredited”. “Let’s not blame the victim (Khobragade) for the lack of information on the part of those who should have known and were preparing on this for a long time,” he added.