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29 Sep, 2023 07:09

US raised Canada’s murder allegation with India – Reuters

Washington has urged New Delhi to cooperate with Ottawa’s probe into the killing of a Sikh separatist
US raised Canada’s murder allegation with India – Reuters

The United States has encouraged India to cooperate with Canada's investigation into the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, amid growing tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa, Reuters has reported, citing an unnamed US official.

Neither side publicly mentioned that the issue was discussed at a meeting between the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Washington on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged the “possible” involvement of the Indian government in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar – without providing evidence.

While India has dismissed the claim, Canada’s partners in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, have voiced their “concerns,” and the US has stated its support for Canada.

"Reports that Canada asked the US to publicly condemn the murder and that we refused are false and we would strongly push back on the rumors that we were reluctant to speak publicly about this," a senior US administration official told CBC News last week. 

The Indian foreign minister said earlier this week that New Delhi was open to looking into any "specific" information that Canada provides, while insisting that it has not been done yet. 

"One, we told the Canadians that this [extrajudicial killings] is not the government of India's policy," Jaishankar said at an event in New York ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly. "Two, we told the Canadians that look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know – we are open to looking at it”.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside a temple in British Columbia in June. He had been designated a terrorist by India in 2020. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking on Thursday,  said he was certain that Blinken would raise the issue with Jaishankar.

“The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Quebec. US officials have previously publicly encouraged the Indian government to cooperate with the Canadian investigation.

Indian media on Friday quoted Jaishankar as saying he had “exchanged notes on global developments” with Blinken, pointing out that both sides “kept mum” about the Canada row. 

The State Department’s readout said the two ministers had discussed “a full range of issues,” including a new potential trade route – the India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) – announced during the G20 Summit in New Delhi this month, along with cooperation in defense, space and clean energy. 

Jaishankar and Blinken also discussed cooperation ahead of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, which New Delhi is set to host in the first half of November.  Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to be at the 2+2 gathering, with Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh representing India.