US unhappy with Khobragade episode

Recognising the damage that the diplomatic row has done to the India-US relationship, there is a realisation in the top American leadership that “it was the most stupid thing to do” on their part and that they would now have to “work overtime” to bring back the ties on track.

As Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade landed in New Delhi on Friday night, there was a sense of relief in the United States government, with officials expressing their determination to move forward the relationship, which President Barack Obama has described as the defining partnership of the 21st century.

“The US and India enjoy a broad and deep friendship, and this isolated episode is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful ties that we share,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Obama, sources said, was regularly updated on the development and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, too, was monitoring the situation and so was Secretary of State John Kerry, it is believed.

“This has clearly been a challenging time in the US-India relationship. We expect and hope that this will now come to a closure and the Indians will now take significant steps with us to improve our relationship and return it to a more constructive place,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

Arrested on December 12, Khobragade, 39, was strip- searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two countries with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps.

Sources said there was “furious” reaction in the top American leadership when the matter was first brought to their notice on December 12, the day Khobragade was arrested in New York on charges of visa fraud and misrepresentation of facts.

“It was one of the most stupid things to do,” a top American leader is learnt to have said, referring to the damage the diplomat case has done to the India-US ties.

Devyani barred from entering US

Expelled Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, in effect, has been barred entry into the United States, with the State Department saying that her name will be placed in visa and immigration lookout systems to prevent routine issuance of visa, reports PTI from Washington.

 Khobragade’s departure from the United States, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has said, does not change the charges against her. “Her name would be placed in visa and immigration lookout systems to prevent the routine issuance of any future visa and upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest,” she said. It is clear that Khobragade is being virtually treated as “persona non grata”. 

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