‘It was an appropriate response not a retaliation’
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday ruled out restoration of extra privileges to American diplomats and indicated India will continue persuading the U.S. to drop all charges against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
In a Karan Thapar interview for CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate show, Mr. Khurshid described the Khobragade incident as a “mini crisis” and defended India's decision to withdraw some privileges extended to U.S. Embassy staffers.
“No, there was no retaliation. I think it was an appropriate response, not a retaliation. We did what really is the formal procedures that apply to everybody. If they were friends, taking extra concessions, those extra concessions may have been discretionary given to them from time to time.”
“But when you take stock of what are our entitlements and what are your obligations, then it becomes important that you put everything in line,” he explained while pointing out that India should not be seen as extending more privileges to one country and less to others. India has asked the U.S Embassy to stop all commercial activities on its premises from next weekend and withdrew identity cards giving blanket privileges to some U.S. consulate staff.
On the charges against Ms. Khobragade that would not inhibit her from travelling to any country except the U.S. as a private citizen, Mr. Khurshid said India would try to “clean up things completely.”
Meanwhile, the Indian woman diplomat at the centre of the storm called on the Minister and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to thank them for their backing since December 12 when she was arrested in New York on visa fraud charges based on a complaint by her domestic maid.
In another development, government sources identified the American diplomat targeted for retaliatory expulsion as Wayne May, Chief of the Embassy’s diplomatic security contingent. On Friday, he was given 48 hours to leave the country.