The United States and Britain have jointly called upon India to reconsider its demand for Canada to scale down its diplomatic presence in India.
This appeal comes after Canada recently withdrew 41 diplomats in response to a dispute centered around the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which took place in a Vancouver suburb in June.
Canada has accused India of involvement in the assassination, while India has vehemently denied these allegations, categorizing Nijjar as a “terrorist.”
The U.S. State Department’s spokesperson, Matthew Miller, expressed concern over the departure of Canadian diplomats from India in reaction to the Indian government’s demand for a significant reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence.
Both Washington and London have taken Canada’s accusations seriously and have called upon India to collaborate with Canada in the ongoing murder investigation, albeit with some reluctance to openly criticize India.
Analysts speculate that the U.S. and the UK are cautious about jeopardizing their relations with India, as they consider it a crucial counterbalance to their primary Asian rival, China.
However, the recent statements from the U.S. State Department and Britain’s Foreign Office mark the most direct criticism of New Delhi’s actions in this case.
A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office expressed disagreement with the Indian government’s decisions that led to the departure of Canadian diplomats from India.
Canada’s response to India’s demand was the withdrawal of 41 diplomats and the temporary suspension of in-person operations at consulates in various Indian cities, along with warnings of visa processing delays.
The U.S. State Department emphasized that resolving differences necessitates the presence of diplomats on the ground and urged the Indian government to reconsider its insistence on reducing Canada’s diplomatic presence while cooperating with the ongoing Canadian investigation.
They also called upon India to uphold its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Similarly, Britain’s Foreign Office referenced the Vienna Convention, highlighting that the unilateral removal of privileges and immunities that safeguard the safety and security of diplomats goes against the principles and effective functioning of the Vienna Convention.
The joint message from the U.S. and the UK underscores their commitment to preserving diplomatic norms and international agreements while seeking a resolution to the escalating diplomatic tensions between Canada and India.