India, US starts debate on diplomatic immunity

AP, Washington :
India’s new envoy to the United States says he wants to raise the “morale” of the India-US relationship as the two nations look to mending ties damaged by the row over American treatment of an Indian diplomat who was arrested and strip-searched in New York.
“As you would say in the markets, the fundamentals are good, it’s the sentiment that needs improving,” Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told The Associated Press in an interview.
India and the US are holding preliminary discussions to resolve differing interpretations of diplomatic immunity following the spat over Devyani Khobragade, who was expelled from the United States this month after she was indicted on accusations of exploiting her housekeeper.
The US and India, the world’s largest democracies, have forged closer economic and defense ties in the past decade, but relations took a tumble because of Indian outrage over the treatment of Khobragade, who was her nation’s deputy consul general in New York. She was strip-searched after her Dec. 13 arrest, which US marshals say is common practice for a suspect taken into custody, but was viewed in India as unnecessarily humiliating.
India unleashed a steady stream of retaliatory measures against US diplomats, including restrictions at the American Center in New Delhi and revoking new ID cards for some diplomats. Key to the dispute was Washington and Delhi’s differing interpretations of what type of immunity was due to Khobragade. US officials argued that as a consular official, she was immune from prosecution for acts performed in the exercise of consular functions but did not have full diplomatic immunity.
Jaishankar said while that’s the rule for foreign diplomats in the US, he questioned whether Washington expects its diplomats abroad to be treated in kind. He said India has issued new identity cards for US consular officials to specify that their diplomatic immunity does not cover “serious crimes” – referred to as “felonies” in the US
“There is an issue of what does the US expect abroad and what does the US give at home. I think there’s a reconciliation there that needs to be done,” the ambassador said.

Your email address will not be published.