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Discussed Canada with Blinken, both sides came out better informed: Jaishankar

By Lalit K Jha
September 29, 2023 21:34 IST
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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the Canadian allegations with regard to the death of a Khalistani separatist was discussed during his meeting with the Secretary of State Tony Blinken a day earlier and noted that the two delegations came out "better informed" after the meeting.

IMAGE: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the Hudson Institute, Washington, DC, September 29, 2023. Photograph: ANI on Twitter

”Yes, I did,” Jaishankar said in response to a question during his appearance at the prestigious Hudson Institute think-tank when asked if the issue of Canadian allegations came up during his meeting with Blinken at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the state department.

The US side shared its assessments on this whole situation and he explained to the Americans a summary of India's concerns. ”I think hopefully we both came out better informed,” Jaishankar said.


Tensions flared between India and Canada following Trudeau's explosive allegations of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on his country's soil on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

India angrily rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.

The Canadian prime minister, he said, made some allegations initially privately and then publicly. ”Our response to him both in private and public was that his allegation was not consistent with our policy. And if he had, his government had anything relevant specifics, we would look into,” he said.

"We were open to looking at it now. That's where that conversation is at this point of time," Jaishankar said.

He said that for India, Canada has become a country where organised crime from India mixed with trafficking in people, mixed with secessionism and violence which is a very toxic combination of issues that people who have found operating space.

He acknowledged that there has been a lot between India and Canada on this issue preceding the remarks of the Canadian prime minister.

In the last few years, the issue of Khalistan has come back very much into play, because of what "we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremists, people who openly advocate violence and they have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canadian politics."

"I don't think most Americans, perhaps Canada looks very different, it sort of depends, from where the interests, where the shoe pinches. For us, it has certainly been a country where organised crime from India, mixed with trafficking in people mixed with secessionism, violence, terrorism. It's a very toxic combination of issues and people who have found operating space there," Jaishankar said.

A lot of "our tensions with Canada which well preceded what Mr Trudeau said, I actually come out of that. And today, I'm actually in a situation where my diplomats are unsafe going to the embassy or to the consulates in Canada," he said.

On September 21, India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens in view of "security threats" faced by the Indian high commission and consulates in Canada.

Jaishankar noted that Indian diplomats in Canada were publicly intimidated.

"That has actually compelled me to temporarily suspend even visa operations in Canada. So, as I said, you know, often countries look very different depending on how you see them and what your interests are, but I have this problem in Canada," he added.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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