Devyani Khobragade row: Mere welcoming not enough, US must do something, says Salman Khurshid

As the crisis over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade continues unresolved, India has transferred her to the Indian Permanent Mission at the United Nations.

Updated: Dec 22, 2013, 16:48 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: As the crisis over Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade continues unresolved, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid reacted to the US State Department`s comments saying that mere welcoming of the remarks made by him was not enough and that the US must act on the issue.

“They (the US) must do something. Welcoming is not enough,” Khurshid told a news agency.

However, when asked if the issue could be resolved anytime soon, Khurshid expressed hope saying, “Something will happen”.

Devyani Khobragade, who was released on USD 250,000 bond after pleading bot guilty to the charges of visa fraud, will get UN immunity once she starts her work.

Devyani, who was arrested on charges of underpaying her nanny Sangeeta Richards and committing visa fraud, is said to have undergone the humiliation of being strip searched and cavity-searched in the US. She was then placed in the jail with hard core drug-addict criminals.

India has transferred Devyani to the Indian Permanent Mission at the United Nations and asked it to grant the privileges and immunities that a diplomatic officer is entitled to.

Indian Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji wrote a letter to the UN chief Ban Ki-moon "informing him that we have now a new diplomat who is a Counsellor and…. we would like her to have the same privileges and immunities as a diplomatic officer. We also indicate where her name will be printed in our delegations` list," reported a news agency.

Mukerji said the papers are being processed and the UN has to send Khobragade`s documents to the US Office of Foreign Missions, which is part of the US State Department protocol for clearance.

Meanwhile, miffed over the treatment meted out to Devyani in the US, the BJP rescinded the invitations sent to the US consulate officials to attend Narendra Modi`s rally in Maharashtra today.

In retaliation, BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha demanded thorough search of officials in the American Embassy in New Delhi and take necessary actions as per law.

"There should be a thorough search of the so-called diplomats in the American Embassy as many officials who should not get diplomatic status have diplomatic IDs, and action should be taken against them as per law," Sinha said.

Though India has asked the US to drop charges against Devyani and also asked for an apology, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had earlier termed the Indo-US relationship "extremely exceptionally valuable".

Reciprocating Khurshid’s conciliatory tone, US State Department issued a statement saying, "it is important to preserve and protect our partnership".

"I...point you to the comments of External Affairs Minister Khurshid`s comments earlier today, where he talked about the importance of US-India relations, talked about how valuable they are. And we certainly fully agree that it`s important to preserve and protect our partnership," the State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Responding to a question, she said, " it not just about diplomatic ties, we have over USD 90 billion in bilateral trades, we`re supporting thousands of jobs in both of our countries, we share very close counterterrorism cooperation".

"We are engaged with India, of course, on a range of issues, including Afghanistan, which is often a hot topic in here," Psaki said.

The US would continue discussions with India through diplomatic channels and private conversations, she said. US Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to call Khurshid soon to discuss the issue and discuss a way forward to the sudden eruption of tension between the two countries.

"We (Kerry) reached out to him (Khurshid), and I believe Parliament was in session; he wasn`t available at the time, but he looks forward to speaking with him soon when we can align the two schedules up," she said adding that Kerry has actively engaged on the issue and has received several briefings on the issue.