India was handed an unconditional apology for the July 16 killing of Tamil Nadu fisherman by a U.S. Navy ship when U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman met with Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao here on Wednesday.
At their meeting, Ms. Sherman was quick to “convey her personal condolences and deep regrets for those Indian nationals killed and injured off the coast of UAE by a U.S. Navy ship on 16 July,” according to an official statement by the Indian Embassy in Washington.
The statement of regret comes even as a Pentagon spokesman reiterated that USNS Rappahannock “did employ a series of warning measures to alert the oncoming vessel.”
While Ms. Sherman said to Ms. Rao that the U.S. government was “investigating the incident in a thorough and independent manner and would keep the Indian Government apprised of full facts of the incident,” Pentagon spokesman George Little appeared to discount reports of the Dubai police chief saying that the U.S. Navy did not issue warnings to the fishermen.
“It remains our belief at this stage that warning measures were undertaken before shots were fired in this incident,” he said adding, “The incident remains under investigation, and we need to await the outcome of that investigation before reaching final conclusions.”
Mr. Little did not provide an answer to questions about the timeline for completion of the ongoing investigation into the incident and whether the U.S. would consider paying compensation to the fishermen’s families, as demanded by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. The question of compensation “really calls for speculation at this time,” Mr. Little said.
However he did admit that the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) “has been part of the investigation, as you would expect,” suggesting that there may be a potential criminal investigation into the incident.