The Telegraph
Thursday , January 23 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Khurshid raises arrest with Kerry

Salman Khurshid (top) and John Kerry (above) at the Geneva talks. (AFP)

New Delhi, Jan. 22: India and the US on Wednesday agreed to develop “institutional arrangements” to avoid any repeat of their recent diplomatic spat over the arrest of Devyani Khobragade in New York in December.

Foreign minister Salman Khurshid met US secretary of state John Kerry on the margins of the Geneva II peace conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, the topmost leaders of the two nations to meet since the India diplomat’s arrest.

They “recognised the need to put in place institutional arrangements to look at all outstanding issues related to the privileges and immunities of diplomats of both countries so that such issues could be resolved in a timely manner,” the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

Khurshid also expressed India’s concerns over the US state department decision to issue visas meant for trafficking victims to Khobragade’s nanny Sangeeta Richard and her family.

But the two leaders also decided to push for the early resumption of talks on energy cooperation and food safety that have been put on hold because of the dispute.

The meeting lasted almost half-an-hour.

Yesterday, the Indian ambassador to Washington had told Reuters the case was handled “appallingly” and needs to be resolved, but the US remains probably India’s most important ally.

“I won’t underplay this incident, I won t overplay this incident. I think we need to see it in perspective,” S. Jaishankar said. “I think we are in the midst of working this one out.”

Jaishankar said India was “perplexed” by the decisions of US authorities to arrest and strip-search Khobragade after she was accused of visa fraud and underpaying her maid. “It was not just done publicly; frankly it was done appallingly.”

However, he played down the impact on the practical side of ties with the US, saying: “It’s probably the most important relationship.”