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'Khobragade incident extremely irksome; time for closure'

March 16, 2014 14:13 IST

Terming the Khobragade episode "extremely irksome", Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday said it was time there should be a "closure" to the issue for which the US should find a "political solution".

Asserting that there were "practical considerations" and India cannot look unconcerned when something like this happens, he said the court by rejecting the first indictment has given an opportunity to US administration to put it behind and questioned why they were not doing so.

"Even at the worst time, I made repeated statements that although it is extremely irksome what has happened and we are convinced that what has happened is wrong and it should not be taken any further, nevertheless this should not impact our larger relationship. But there are practical considerations.

"We cannot look unconcerned when something like this happens. We have to balance practical implications with our commitment to keep our relationship intact and in fact, enhance it," the minister told PTI in an interview.

Khurshid was asked for his reaction to US prosecutors re-indicting senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on visa fraud charges and accused her of "illegally" underpaying and "exploiting" her domestic maid.

The second indictment, on Saturday, came a day after a US court dismissed an earlier indictment.

Observing that "overall it has an effect and there was very deep sense of hurt here", Khurshid said "the court by rejecting the indictment has given you an opportunity to put it behind us so why are we not putting it behind us... They should find a political solution."

Referring to his meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry on the issue, he said, "We have already agreed that officials from both sides will meet to look into issue of immunity and privileges so that in future there is no trouble. When you are looking at no trouble in future, it is an ideal thing would be to put a closure to what has happened."

Khurshid also said India was convinced that there were no justified grounds for what they have done.

On Saturday, the MEA had expressed disappointment over an "unnecessary" step of second indictment and asserted that any measure consequent to the decision will "unfortunately" impact upon efforts on both sides to build India-US strategic partnership.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested in New York on December 12 and was strip-searched, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

She was released on a $250,000 bond, was later granted full diplomatic immunity and she flew back to India on January 10. She has since been transferred to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

Image: Union External Affairs Minister Salman

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