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Powell calls off Nepal trip

New Delhi, Dec. 27 (PTI): US ambassador Nancy Powell has called off her Nepal visit amid fears she may be frisked at Delhi airport after India withdrew special privileges for American diplomats over deputy consul-general Devyani Khobragade’s arrest in New York.

Powell, who had informed the external affairs ministry about her plans, cancelled her visit after she was told the special airport pass that would have given her special access through procedural checks stood withdrawn.

Asserting that India withdrew the facility on an entirely “reciprocal” basis, government sources said that when Indian ambassadors to the US travel in and out of that country, they do not get any special privilege. They cited the example of Meera Shankar, a former ambassador who was pulled from an airport security line and frisked in Mississippi in 2010.

However, the US embassy clarified tonight that Powell’s personal holiday plans were cancelled “to deal with pressing issues”.

Jaishankar protest

India’s new ambassador to the US S. Jaishankar today met top American officials and sought withdrawal of charges against Khobragade even as the state department said it was looking into the issue of full diplomatic immunity believed to have been enjoyed by the diplomat at the time of her arrest.

Jaishankar also strongly objected to the manner in which the US government evacuated Indian citizens — family members of the maid of the Indian diplomat — undermining the judicial sovereignty of India, sources said.