Canada’s foreign minister said the government is still in discussions with India about Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country as a dispute rages over the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in a Vancouver suburb.
(Bloomberg) — Canada’s foreign minister said the government is still in discussions with India about Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country as a dispute rages over the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in a Vancouver suburb.
Melanie Joly said Tuesday that Canada is in “constant cooperation and dialogue with India” after reports that Canada has been instructed to reduce the number of diplomats by two-thirds — a move that would send dozens of staff home and significantly reduce its contingent in New Delhi.
“In moments of tensions — because indeed there are tensions between both our governments — more than ever it’s important that diplomats be on the ground and that’s why we believe in the importance of having a strong diplomatic footprint in India,” she said in Ottawa.
“That being said, we are in ongoing conversations with the Indian government and we will continue to protect Canada.”
The Financial Times earlier reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government told Canada it must repatriate 41 diplomats — out of 62 currently in the country — by Oct. 10. The Canadian government has an embassy in Delhi and consulates in Bangalore, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated that his country hopes to maintain ties with India even as it urges the Modi government to participate in an investigation into the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Relations between the two countries soured when Trudeau accused India of orchestrating the June killing of Nijjar, 45, outside a Sikh temple in the city of Surrey. The Modi government had listed Nijjar as a terrorist, while community members in Canada described him as a peaceful activist.
“We’re not looking to escalate,” Trudeau said Tuesday. “We’re going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India during this extremely difficult time.”
India has dismissed the allegation as “absurd” and informed the Canadian government that it expects a reduction in its diplomatic presence to bring it to parity with the Indian high commission in Ottawa.
Both countries have already kicked out one of the other’s diplomats. India has also issued an advisory warning its residents against traveling to Canada and suspended visas for Canadians seeking to visit the South Asian country.
–With assistance from Sudhi Ranjan Sen.
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