India should fulfill its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the State Department insists. Rediff.com's Suman Guha Mozumder reports.
The United States on Tuesday said while the safety and security of US diplomats and consular officers in India is a top priority, the US does not want Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade's arrest in New York last week to affect the India-US relationship.
'The US and India enjoy a broad and deep friendship, and this isolated episode is not in any way indicative of the close and respectful ties that we share and will continue to share,' Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the State Department, said.
'We have conveyed at high levels to the Government of India our expectations that India will continue to fulfill all of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,' she added.
'We will continue to work with India to ensure that all of our diplomats and consular officers are being afforded full rights and protection. Also, of course, the safety and security of our facilities as well is something we take very seriously, and we will keep working with the Indians on that,' she said.
Harf, who during her briefing on Monday had directed almost all questions posed by reporters on Dr Khobragade's arrest to US Marshals in New York, on Tuesday said the State Department certainly does not want the arrest to affect the India-US relationship. 'We understand there are sensitive issues involved here,' she said.
'We have been very clear that they need to keep providing security to the extent that they do, and that we will work with them going forward,'Harf said, adding that 'A couple of folks have spoken on each side,' although she could not say when.
The major part of Tuesday's briefing was spent on the US-Indian diplomatic stand-off.
Harf insisted India needs to uphold all of its obligations under the Vienna Convention. 'Again, our focus here is on moving the bilateral relationship forward, that this one isolated episode does not impact the bilateral relationship.'
To a question if the measures taken by the Indian government were proportionate to the deputy consul general's arrest in New York, Harf said the episode with somebody charged with a crime is a separate and isolated incident.
'We believe we need to move forward, they need to keep with security, with diplomatic, all of the consular issues that I talked about with the Vienna Convention. I just don't think that they necessarily should be tied together in that way,' Harf said.
'Obviously, we know this is a sensitive issue,' Harf added, 'and that is why we are looking at what transpired and talking to the Indians about it directly.'
Image: Dr Devyani Khobragade. Photograph: SnapsIndia