India on Tuesday announced that all identity cards given to U.S. consular staff members stood withdrawn, and their replacements would be exact copies of those given to Indian Consulate officials in the U.S.
On Monday, asked whether the South Block would extend the deadline for surrendering the cards, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told The Hindu: “Sure, we will give it to them. But the exception is for three days. We will give it to them.”
Sources said this meant there would be no issue with U.S. diplomats while the process of giving new cards was on till a day after Christmas.
The cards are being given to consular officials and not to their family members since Indian consulate officials do not get such cards.
The sources termed incorrect reports that clearances were given for import of duty-free goods despite the freeze announced last week. As the Minister had said: “Reciprocal is reciprocal. Whatever we have to do we have done. It seems we were going further than what was required by reciprocity so we have retreated into reciprocity and it will remain.”
The staff members are now being allowed to import their requirements during the first six months after assuming office, as is provided in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and just like the Indian consulate staff members in the U.S. Earlier, they were allowed to import their requirements anytime during the three-year tenure.
The Ministry of External Affairs is now analysing the data it received about U.S. schools, and prima facie discrepancy has been found in the salaries of U.S. citizens and Indian workers.
The government dismissed concerns about the security of U.S. diplomatic officials in India, as sources reiterated that India took its obligations under the Vienna Convention “very seriously,” and the level of security had never been brought down. “There is no change in the security situation, and all U.S. diplomatic and consular officials are provided security as before,” the sources said.