External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Saturday that India and the US are in talks to resolve the stand-off over the arrest and handcuffing of an Indian envoy and both sides would not want their close ties to be hurt by this one incident.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here, the minister said the ongoing “conversation” between India and the US to resolve the row over the treatment meted out to India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, should be allowed to reach its “logical conclusion”.
“Let the conversation go to its logical conclusion … my conversation (with the US) is not complete,’ Khurshid said to questions on what India and the US are doing to resolve the stand-off, especially after the US said it would not dilute its legal stand on Khobragade, charged with visa fraud and underpaying her maid.
He said India and the US have close ties that have been built over many years and both sides would not want the partnership to be spoilt over “one incident”.
Earlier, during a talk on “Image India” at FICCI, he said India does expect its strategic partner – the US – to be understanding about its need to be allowed to live with dignity and the two sides need to sit down and talk to resolve the row.
Hitting out at the US, he said the Indian legal system may be slow but the Indian Supreme Court has said people should not be handcuffed because it lowers their dignity.
“But the American Supreme Court has not said it … I have been law minister and have never heard expressions like cavity searches,” said the minister to loud applause from the audience.
Talking on the tough stand of the US, which has said it will stick by its laws in the Khobragade case, Khurshid said when the US started conversations with those countries and groups it used to treat as pariahs, then why could it not talk on the diplomat issue.
“Is it unreasonable to say that we must resolve this problem, that we cannot say that there is no solution to this problem … Is it unreasonable to say that you talk to Iran about nuclear weapons, to the Taliban in Afghanistan, that you shake hands where you dropped the bomb, that where you lost thousands of men in Vietnam you become their partners … is it unreasonable to say that people who are your strategic partners have one small expectation – that we be allowed to live with dignity.”
“I speak to America through diplomatic channels but my diplomatic channel has been interrupted,” he added.
India is taking a tough stand on the incident, including paring down of special privileges meant for US diplomats and ministers and top officials declining to meet a visiting US Congressional delegation.
India has termed the strip and cavity search of Khobragade barbaric and despicable and demanded an apology and unconditional withdrawal of the case against the envoy.
Khurshid said there are some people in the US “”who pontificate and say this is time for war”” referring to Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara who has taken a tough position in the case.