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US hiccups ‘temporary’

New Delhi, Jan. 3: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today described the ongoing public spat with the US over the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade as a “temporary aberration” in bilateral ties, refraining from the aggressive pitch adopted by the foreign office against Washington.

“There have recently been some hiccups, but I sincerely believe that these are temporary aberrations and diplomacy should be given a chance to resolve these issues that have arisen,” Singh said at a media briefing here.

The larger gains to both India and the US from a strengthened bilateral partnership over the past decade under his stewardship far outweigh small setbacks, Singh appeared to suggest.

Singh described the Indo-US nuclear deal that he risked his first government over as his “best moment” in office.

“Certainly, the best moment for me was when we were able to strike a nuclear deal with the US to end the nuclear apartheid which had sought to stifle the processes of social and economic change, and technical progress of our country in many ways,” Singh said. “Our government attaches highest priority to strengthening the strategic partnership between our two countries.”

Singh’s statement came after a fortnight of frenetic and unusually muscular responses from India to the arrest of Khobragade on December 12 on charges of visa fraud after she allegedly paid her Indian nanny significantly less than what she had promised in visa documents.

India removed barriers outside the US embassy here, opening up a road blocked for 12 years over fears of terror attacks.

It withdrew special diplomatic privileges it had accorded to American diplomats here — unlimited imports without duties, full immunity even for consular officers, and passes that allowed these diplomats almost unrestricted movement inside Indian airports.

India has demanded that prosecutors drop the charges against Khobragade, a demand the US has publicly rejected.


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