US calls for in-depth probe into Canada’s ‘serious’ allegations against India
“We’ve been clear, these allegations are serious, they need to be fully investigated and of course, as we’ve said before, we urge India to participate actively in that investigation,” said John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the national security council in the White House
John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on October 03, 2023 in Washington, DC (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
In response to the Canadian allegations implicating India in the assassination of a pro-Khalistan separatist, The White House has said that the accusations are “serious” and warrant a comprehensive investigation.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was killed in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
Tensions flared between India and Canada last month following Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.
India has angrily rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”.
The claims made by Canada were discussed when visiting external affairs minister S Jaishankar and national security advisor Jake Sullivan met in Washington last week, John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the national security council in the White House told reporters at a news conference.
“The issue was discussed. We’ll certainly leave it to those two countries to talk about their bilateral relationship,” Kirby said in response to a question.
“We’ve been clear, these allegations are serious, they need to be fully investigated and of course, as we’ve said before, we urge India to participate actively in that investigation,” Kirby said.
Jaishankar, who also met his counterpart Antony Blinken during his visit, told journalists in Washington last week that the governments of India and Canada will have to talk to each other and see how they resolve their differences over the issue and underlined that the larger issue of “permissiveness” must be flagged and addressed.
State Department’s deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at a separate news conference that it’s critical that Canada’s investigation proceeds and the perpetrators are brought to justice.
“We also have, as we’ve previously said publicly and privately, urged the Indian government to cooperate in the Canadian investigation and cooperate in those efforts,” he said.
The US, he said, has seen the reports on the diplomatic staffing levels for the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.
“But I don’t have anything further to offer on those reports and certainly don’t want to get into hypotheticals and take this process one step at a time. As it relates to our Indo-Pacific strategy and the focus that we continue to place on the region, that effort and that line of work is going to continue,” he said.
“With India, we are partners with them in the Quad and in many others, and we continue to work with them and other countries in the region on a number of important issues.
“But as I said, we take these allegations very seriously and we continue to not just work closely with our Canadian partners but have publicly and privately urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada,” Patel said.
Meanwhile, The New York Times said that Canada’s approach appears to be an effort not to undermine US president Joe Biden who has devoted much time and energy to courting prime minister Narendra Modi.
“For the United States, India is seen as perhaps the most important of the so-called Global South states that it is wooing in its geopolitical contest with Moscow and Beijing,” it said.