In describing the meeting between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the U.S. State Department stayed clear of any mention of the discord between India and Canada. Neither minister mentioned the issue explicitly while characterising their conversation.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made an explosive allegation on September 18 that Indian Government agents had killed a Canadian Khalistani separatist , Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia earlier this year. India has denied any involvement in the slaying.
On Thursday, Mr. Jaishankar said that he had “exchanged notes on global developments” with Mr. Blinken and the State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller’s readout of the meeting said that the two ministers had discussed “ a full range of issues”.
The two ministers discussed the recently launched India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) and India’s G20 presidency. They also discussed, as per the readout, cooperation in defence, space and clean energy in the context of the upcoming ‘2+2’ dialogue between the countries’ finance and defence ministers, the next session of which will be held in New Delhi.
Notwithstanding the State Department readout’s wording, U.S. officials have publicly encouraged the government to cooperate with the Canadian investigation.
‘The Americans have been with us’ : Trudeau
“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,” Mr. Trudeau was heard saying on Thursday, in a CTV clip of his press conference in Quebec. The U.S. and Canada are neighbours as well as allies, including via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Five Eyes intelligence partnership.
“This is something that all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule, need to take seriously and we are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way, anchored in the rule of law with all of our partners, including in our approach with the Government of India,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Asked about his view on Mr. Blinken going ahead with the meeting with Mr. Jaishankar , despite the allegations against New Delhi Mr. Trudeau described India as a “growing economic power” and “important geopolitical player” and said it was “extremely important” that everyone continue to “engage constructively and seriously” with the Government of India. Citing Canada’s Indo Pacific Strategy, Mr. Trudeau said Ottawa was “very serious” about building closer ties with India. He said that as a “rule of law country” , Canada would need to work with India, to ensure it got all the facts with regard to the killing of Mr. Nijjar.
Jaishankar Meets Lawmakers in Washington
In addition to meeting U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Mr Jaishankar, on Thursday, met with Members of Congress (including Indian American lawmakers Ro Khanna and Rajakrishnamurthi ) at India House, the official residence of the Indian Ambassador. Mr Jaishankar had also met with think tanks on Thursday.
Mr Jaishankar interacted with industry heads at an event organised by the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, an advocacy group. There was a discussion at this meeting about opportunities emerging from US-India collaboration , such as in the fields of critical and emerging technology and supply chains.