US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is presently in Delhi for the '2+2' dialogue with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, has urged India to collaborate with Canada in investigating the June killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The incident has escalated tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa, particularly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at potential involvement of Indian agents in Nijjar's death in September.
Blinken emphasized the importance of India working closely with Canada on the investigation. In a media briefing, he stated, "We think it is very important that India works with Canada on its investigation, and that they find a way to resolve this difference in a cooperative way." He acknowledged the strong ties between India and Canada, expressing the desire to see them resolve their differences as friends.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, in a separate briefing, conveyed India's serious concerns about the rising activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Canada. He reiterated India's consistent position on the matter, emphasizing core security concerns. Kwatra pointed to a recent video released by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), threatening Air India flights on November 19, coinciding with the ICC World Cup final.
“The thrust of our conversations with our partners is no different today than it is at any other forum — it is essentially that we have core security concerns, a recent video surfaced from Pannun which presents a very serious security concern for the Indian interest,” Kwatra said.
India has been forthright in its discussions with friends and partners, underscoring its security apprehensions. Kwatra mentioned that India's stance on the issue has been clearly communicated, and its friends and partners understand India's perspective.
In response to Trudeau's allegations, India took diplomatic measures, temporarily suspending the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and requesting Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence. Canada responded by withdrawing 41 diplomats and their family members from India. While some visa services have been resumed by India, the situation remains delicate.
Addressing regional developments, Kwatra noted that discussions included the Middle East situation. Both India and the US shared their perspectives and concerns about the evolving scenario in the region. India's stance on a two-state solution and an early resumption of dialogue was reiterated. Kwatra condemned terror attacks, advocated for adherence to international humanitarian law, called for de-escalation, and expressed concern over civilian casualties.
The diplomatic engagements between the US, India, and Canada underscore the delicate balance in international relations. While urging cooperation on the investigation, Blinken emphasized the significance of resolving differences amicably. India's firm stance on security issues and its commitment to regional stability were reiterated, highlighting the multifaceted nature of discussions during the '2+2' dialogue. As the situation evolves, diplomatic efforts will play a pivotal role in fostering understanding and collaboration between the nations involved.