The United States is proceeding with the prosecution of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade and has no intention to withdraw the case of visa fraud against her.
“We don’t want this to negatively impact our relationship,that we work on a broad range of issues together,our bilateral relationship is too important. And we’ve said repeatedly that we don’t want it,” the State Department Deputy Spokesperson,Marie Harf,told reporters at her daily news conference.
Harf was responding to questions about the impact on India-US relationship the arrest of an Indian diplomat has had.
Harf’s remarks came at a time when US sources said that more evidence was being gathered against the 39-year-old diplomat before the indictment is filed. The deadline for indictment is January 13.
There is no question of apology to India over the arrest of Khobragade,the then Deputy Consul General of India,in New York on December 12 which has led to strong protests by the Indian government and widepread indignation in India.
The Indian government has demanded withdrawal of the case and an apology for the treatmet meted out to the diplomat.
Khobragade,39,was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.
Subsequent revelations that she was strip searched and held in jail with drug addicts and criminals triggered a row between the two sides.
“We had some good conversations with our Indian counterparts. And that’s why what we’re doing right now is letting that process play itself out and focusing from our end on moving the relationship forward,on the ground and here as well,” Harf said.
The Indian Government has transferred Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations,with the view that this would give her the necessary diplomatic immunity from arrest.
Harf said the State Department is still reviewing the application for her transfer and issue the necessary documents for full diplomatic immunity.
“We have received the paperwork from the United Nations. It is currently under review,and I don’t have anything further for you on that except that we’re taking a look at it,and when we have something more,we’re happy to share it,” she said.
The State Department spokesperson,refuted reports coming in the Indian media that the US Embassy is paying less wages or violating any local law in the country.
“Our standard practice — and I have no reason to believe that’s not the case here — is to pay folks that work for us in countries around the world in conjunction with local law,with local practice,” she said.
“I’m happy to look into those specific reports…It’s my understanding that at a minimum,it comports with local law and local practice. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not beyond that. So I’m happy to check and see what our practice is across the board,” she added.
“I have no reason to believe that our folks have done anything wrong on that,” Harf added.
(With PTI inputs)