Khurshid, Kerry discuss embassy role in Devayani episode

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday conveyed to US Secretary of State John Kerry India’s concerns over the role of the American Embassy in New Delhi in “evacuation” of the family of Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade’s domestic help Sangeeta Richard.     

Khurshid and Kerry had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Geneva II international conference on Syria at Montreux in Switzerland.

 This was the first high-level meeting between India and America after bilateral relation suffered a jolt due to the diplomatic spat over the arrest and humiliation of Khobragade by US law enforcement officials in New York on December 12.

Though the External Affairs Minister and US Secretary of State agreed that the bilateral relation was “very important for both the countries”, granting of T-visas to Sangeeta, her husband Philip and the couple’s two children by the American Embassy in New Delhi remained a thorny issue.

“In view of the recent episode involving the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, the EAM and the (US) Secretary of State recognized the need to put in place institutional arrangements to look at all outstanding issues relating to the privileges and immunities of diplomats of both countries so that such issues could be resolved in a timely manner,” the Ministry of External Affairs stated in a press-release issued in New Delhi. “The EAM also underlined India’s concern over trafficking visas issued to Indian nationals by the US Embassy in India,” it added.

Khurshid and Kerry also discussed about bringing the ties back on course and agreed on early restart of the bilateral engagements according to the calendar that was decided when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama met in Washington last September.

“Both sides looked forward to the early realization of the mutually-agreed calendar of bilateral exchanges, including the visit of US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for the India-US Energy Dialogue and the visit of the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Margaret Hamburg,” the MEA official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said

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