US, UK back Canada amid diplomatic row with Indiatext_fields
New Delhi: The United States and the United Kingdom expressed alarm on Friday on the withdrawal of 41 Canadian diplomats from India, amid the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Canada and India. The UK said it disagreed with the decisions made by the Indian government, while the US said it had asked New Delhi not to insist on a reduction in diplomatic presence over a dispute over the death of a pro-Khalistan leader.
According to news agency Reuters, Washington stated that it considered Canada's accusations seriously and encouraged India to assist Canada in the investigation into the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“We are concerned by the departure of Canadian diplomats from India, in response to the Indian government’s demand of Canada to significantly reduce its diplomatic presence in India,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.
Meanwhile, a Britain Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We do not agree with the decisions taken by the Indian government that have resulted in a number of Canadian diplomats departing India, Indian Express reported.
The statements came after Melanie Joly, Canada’s Foreign Minister announced the withdrawal of 41 Canadian diplomats and their 42 family members from India since they were “in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date” and that would have “put their personal safety at risk”.
Both the UK and the US cited the Vienna Convention. “We expect India to uphold its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the US State Department said, adding that it has urged the Indian government to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation over the killing of Nijjar last month. “The unilateral removal of the privileges and immunities that provide for the safety and security of diplomats is not consistent with the principles or the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention,” Britain’s Foreign Office’s statement read.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again criticised the Indian government shortly after it announced the removal of 41 diplomats from India, claiming that it was making "life as usual" "unbelievably difficult" for "millions of people" in both India and Canada.
When Trudeau said there was a "potential link" between the Indian government and the execution of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada earlier this year, there was a diplomatic stalemate between India and Canada in September. India vehemently denied the accusation.
India's demand for diplomatic parity has been described by Canada as "contrary to international law." The action taken by New Delhi, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), was entirely compliant with the Vienna agreement. The MEA declared, “Our actions in implementing this parity are fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” India had demanded last month that Canada cut back on the number of diplomats stationed there, citing the need for a bilateral diplomatic presence that is equal in terms of both strength and rank.