US diplomats not to be given extra privileges, hints India

Last Updated: Friday, March 7, 2014 - 20:25

New Delhi: In a clear indication that US diplomats will not be given any extra privileges, India on Friday said diplomatic immunity will be granted strictly on reciprocal basis even as the special airport access to the American Ambassador here has not been restored even after two and half months.
Admitting that earlier a lot of privileges were granted to the US diplomats on "give and take" basis, sources on Friday said the Khobragade episode has provided "better understanding" on such issues, asserting that benefits pertaining to tax, imports and other immunity-related matters should be adhered to on strict reciprocity.

"It is simple matter of math and equation...Diplomacy always works on principle of reciprocity and the Khobragade issue has provided a better understanding of such matters," sources said here.

Asked if the special airport access pass to the US envoy, which was withdrawn in the wake of arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, has been restored, sources said "since we do not have that privilege, the same is applied to them", making it clear that Ambassador Nancy Powell`s pass has not been restored.

The arrest of Khobragade on December 12 in New York on visa fraud charges had triggered a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

Khobragade was indicted by a US grand jury on visa fraud and making false statements. She returned to India after she was asked to leave the US by the State Department.

Asked about India not making any distinction between immunity of US Embassy and consular staff before the Khobragade issue, the sources said "earlier lot of privileges were granted on the basis of give and take basis" but post- Khobragade incident it was decided to grant such benefits strictly on reciprocity which is understood and appreciated world-over.

PTI

First Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 - 20:25

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