The government said on Tuesday (19) that the “serious allegations” over the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada will not impact its own ongoing trade negotiations with India.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson at 10 Downing Street was asked about the impact the issue may have on India-UK relations after a government spokesperson said the UK remains in “close touch” with the Canadian authorities.
It follows Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in Parliament on Monday (18) that it is pursuing “credible allegations” of “potential” Indian links to the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Chief of Khalistan Tiger Force and a designated terrorist. Canada also expelled an Indian diplomat.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi on Tuesday strongly rejected the claims as “absurd and motivated” and dismissed a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move.
“We are in close touch with our Canadian partners about these serious allegations,” a UK government spokesperson said.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigation by the Canadian authorities,” the spokesperson said.
Later, when Sunak’s spokesperson was pressed on the matter, he said work on the trade negotiations with India “continue as before”.
India and the UK earlier this month agreed to continue to work at pace towards a “landmark” free trade agreement (FTA).