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Kerry reaches out to India amid protests
December 19, 2013, 5:51 am

Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade [AP]

Indians protesting against the arrest of Devyani Khobragade [AP]

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday had to intervene in a ongoing row over the arrest and alleged humiliation of an Indian diplomat in New York which sparked an outrage in India.

Kerry on Wednesday expressed regret over the handling of the arrest of Devyani Khobragade in a phone call to India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon.

Reaching out to India, Kerry admitted that, “that foreign diplomats serving in the United States are accorded respect and dignity, just as we expect our own diplomats should receive overseas”.

In his conversation with Menon, Kerry also urged that, “we not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India”.

The Indian NSA had earlier described the treatment meted out to the diplomat as “barbaric”.

Soon after the telephonic conversation between Kerry and Menon, a statement from the US State Department said “as a father of two daughters about the same age as Ms. Khobragade, the Secretary empathises with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Ms. Khobragade’s arrest”.

Khobragade was arrested last Thursday in New York on charges related to visa fraud.  In a letter to her colleagues in the Indian Foreign Service, the diplomat described the arrest process.

“While I was going through it, although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, hold up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride,” says the letter.

India had taken a series of unprecedented retaliatory steps to protest against the manner of the Indian diplomat’s arrest.

The government directed the Delhi Police to remove security barricades outside the US embassy.

Identity cards and airport passes of all US consul officials were asked to be turned in.

Top government officials including the Home Minister and representatives of political parties refused to meet a five-member US Congressional delegation on Monday.

India’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that “more steps need to be taken to awaken the US that it’s a changed world.”

“India should take the lead on behalf of a large number of countries in the world to get this message home to the United States,” Nath told The BRICS Post.


TBP and Agencies