US “coordinating” with Canada, “engaging” with India: White House on diplomatic standoff

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–

Adrienne Watson, Spokesperson, White House National Security Council

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, on Wednesday rejected reports of the US rebuffing Canada after the latter accused the Indian government of behind the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Watson said they are “coordinating and consulting” with Canada and also “engaging” with the Indian government.

Watson made the statement in response to reports in the American media that Washington has distanced itself from Canada’s allegation about New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar, a wanted Khalistani leader in India.

The report highlighted the diplomatic challenges faced by the Biden administration as it seeks to maintain strong relations with both India and Canada.

In a post shared on X, Adrienne Watson stated, “Reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way on this are flatly false. We are coordinating and consulting with Canada closely on this issue. This is a serious matter and we support Canada’s ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government.”

Earlier, US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said “serious allegations” were levelled by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against India in the killing of Nijjar, adding that the US wanted the matter handled in a “transparent” way.

In an interview with CBS News, an American television news channel, Kirby urged India to cooperate in the investigation.

“These allegations are serious and we know that Canadians are investigating and we certainly don’t want to get ahead of that investigation. We urge India to cooperate in that investigation as well,” Kirby said in the interview.

Weeks before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Indian officials were involved in the killing of Nijjar, officials in the country sought public condemnation of the murder from their allies, including the United States, but were met with reluctance, The Washington Post reported.

The alleged assassination of Nijjar led to behind-the-scenes discussions among senior officials from the ‘Five Eyes’ countries in the weeks leading up to the G20 Summit in Delhi, the report said. However, no public mention was made before the summit.

‘Five Eyes’ is a security alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US.

Bilateral relations between India and Canada have hit a sharp downward spiral after Prime Minister Trudeau on Monday alleged that “Indian agents” were behind the shooting of Hardeep Nijjar.

Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) — a Sikh extremist organisation banned by India and a “designated terrorist” was killed in a targeted shooting at British Columbia in Canada’s Surrey in June 2018.

India, however, rejected the allegations by the Trudeau administration, terming them “absurd” and “motivated”.

“We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

“Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” the MEA added in its statement.

“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected. We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law,” it added.

India on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move to Canada expelling a senior Indian diplomat in light of the claim of New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of the wanted separatist leader.

The MEA said that the Canadian diplomat was asked to leave India within the next five days.

“The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India,” the MEA stated.

“The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days. The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” it added.

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