New Delhi: There was no mention in the official readout as to whether the diplomatic spat between India and Canada featured in the meeting between external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and US secretary of state Antony Blinken in Washington. However, US media reports claimed that the topic did figure in the talks.
On Thursday, September 28, Jaishankar and Blinken met at the State Department in the US capital of Washington D.C., but neither side mentioned whether the controversy of Canada’s allegations about the involvement of the Indian government in the killing of a Canadian citizen was discussed. However, Associated Press and Reuters reported that it was raised and Blinken reiterated that New Delhi should cooperate with the Canadian investigation.
“Blinken raised the Canadian matter in his meeting, (and) urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada’s investigation,” said a US official, as quoted by Reuters.
During an interaction at the Hudson Institute think-tank on Friday, Jaishankar confirmed whether the issue came up during his talks with Blinken. “Yes, I did”. The US side shared its assessments on this whole situation and he explained to the Americans a summary of India’s concerns, he noted. “I think hopefully we both came out better informed,” Jaishankar said, as per PTI.
Earlier, the State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller stated that the two sides “discussed a full range of issues, including key outcomes of India’s G20 presidency, and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and its potential to generate transparent, sustainable, and high-standard infrastructure investments”.
He also stated that they covered the “continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2+2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defense, space, and clean energy”.
Before the start of the discussions, Jaishankar had said that he looked forward to welcoming Blinken for the ‘2+2’ dialogue in India.
There was no official press release from the Indian government, but Jaishankar tweeted that there was a wide-ranging discussion that followed up the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s state visit in June, talked of “global developments” and laid the “groundwork of our 2+2 meeting very soon”.
Great to meet my friend US Secretary of State @SecBlinken at State Department today.
A wide ranging discussion, following up on PM @narendramodi’s June visit. Also exchanged notes on global developments.
Laid the groundwork of our 2+2 meeting very soon. pic.twitter.com/mOw9SIX1dO
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 28, 2023
Before the meeting was held, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said that he had been told that Blinken would raise the issue with Jaishankar.
“The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal.
Since the allegations were made on September 19, the United States has asked India to cooperate with the investigation. Trudeau had said that authorities were pursuing “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who is described as a pro-Khalistani terrorist by New Delhi.
India had dismissed Canada’s allegations as “motivated” and shut down its visa services for Canadian nationals. Jaishankar had said earlier this week that assassination was not a policy of the government of India.
The US ambassador to Canada, David Cohen had noted that the intelligence inputs from the ‘Five Eyes’ network had led to Trudeau going public with the allegation.
Note: This copy has been updated with Jaishankar’s remarks made at Hudson Institute on Friday, September 29 morning, in Washington.