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Devyani Khobragade arrest: After NSA, John Kerry likely to call Salman Khurshid today

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 12:23

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

New Delhi: With India hinting at a deeper conspiracy behind Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade`s arrest in the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to speak to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday evening to clarify on the issue.

Confirming the development, Khurshid told reporters, "Yes it is possible. I will have word with Kerry on Thursday evening. This matter should be resolved. We will do whatever more is needed to be done."

When prodded by the reporters about the US flip-flop on the issue, the External Affairs Minister said, "There is a deeper US conspiracy against diplomat Devyani Khobragade."

Kerry had on Wednesday expressed regret over the arrest and strip search of Devyani in New York City.

"Hope the incident would not damage the close relationship the US has with India," the US Secretary of State said in a telephonic conversation with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon yesterday.

With the standoff over Devyani`s arrest hurting the Indo-US ties, the White House officials also assured New Delhi that they will review the diplomat`s arrest and strip-search.

"We understand that this is a very sensitive issue for many in India," White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters essentially repeating the statement made by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said.
"Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was afforded" to Devyani Khobragade, India`s deputy consul general in New York, Carney said.

Like Harf, Carney too stressed that an "isolated episode" should not be allowed to cloud a "broad and deep friendship" and an "important relationship" with India.

"US and India enjoy a broad and deep friendship, and this isolated episode is not in any way indicative of the close and respectful ties that we share and will continue to share," he said.

Asked about the slew of retaliatory measures taken by India in response to the treatment of Khobragade, Carney said, "Obviously, the safety and security of our diplomats and consular officers in the field is a top priority."
The External Affairs Minister yesterday told Parliament there was a "conspiracy" against Khobragade and asserted that she was innocent. He said India would bring back the 39-year-old diplomat and "restore her dignity. It is my responsibility".

According to Indian officials, Khobragade, 39, was strip-searched, cavity-searched and swabbed for DNA after her arrest in New York on charges of visa fraud last Thursday, then confined with hardened drug criminals before being released on a $250,000 bail.

National security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon has called the treatment "despicable and barbaric."

First Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 11:21

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