White House supports Canadian probe into ‘serious allegations’ around Nijjar’s killing, urges India to cooperate: John Kirby

The U.S. is going to stay in touch with both its partners, India and Canada, about this issue, he said

September 20, 2023 06:06 pm | Updated 10:13 pm IST

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. File.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. File. | Photo Credit: AP

U.S. President Joe Biden was “mindful of the serious allegations” made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the White House’s strategic communications Chief, John Kirby has said, as he urged India to cooperate in the investigation. Mr Trudeau alleged on Monday that Indian government agents were involved in the June 18 killing of the separatist leader in Canada, an allegation that New Delhi has rejected.

“Certainly the President is mindful of these serious allegations ... and they are very serious...and we support Canada’s efforts to investigate this,” Mr Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Also Read | U.S. State Department ‘urges’ Indian cooperation in Canada’s investigation into Nijjar’s killing

“We believe a fully transparent, comprehensive investigation is the right approach so that we can all know exactly what happened and of course we encourage India to cooperate with that.”

Asked if the U.S. , as a ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing partner of Canada, knew what the allegations were based on, Mr Kirby demurred, saying he wanted to respect the sanctity of the investigation. In terms of the fallout if the allegations were true, Mr Kirby said once the facts were available “you can start to look at recommendations or behaviours you might want to pursue”.

The U.S. is going to stay in touch with both its partners, India and Canada, about this issue, Mr Kirby told CBS News.

The U.S. was “ deeply concerned “ about the allegations, U.S. NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson had said on Tuesday, adding that it was critical that “ the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

On Wednesday, the White House defended its approach, with Ms. Watson responding to a Washington Post remark on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) , by denying that the U.S. had snubbed Canada over the incident.

“Reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way on this are flatly false,“ Ms. Watson wrote, adding that the U.S. and Canada were coordinating closely on the issue.

“This is a serious matter and we support Canada’s ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government,” she said, countering suggestions that Washington was rebuffing Ottawa, because it had to court India as a counterweight to China.

India’s lack of response prompted Trudeau to go public: Canada’s UN Ambassador

In conducting its probe into Mr Nijjar’s death, the government of Canada had used “very energetic , quiet diplomacy” with the Modi government over the last few weeks, according to Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae.

Mr Rae nalleged that the government was not engaging with the Canadian side adequately, prompting Mr Trudeau to publicise the issue.

Also read | Canada not looking to 'provoke' India, says PM Trudeau; urges New Delhi to take killing of separatist Sikh leader Nijjar seriously

“I don’t think anybody who really looked at this objectively would say that Canada has anything to gain from making the statement that the Prime Minister made yesterday. It was not a partisan statement, it was a statement about [sic] deep concern.” Mr Rae told CBC News on Tuesday.

“We didn’t see much coming from the other side,” he said, adding that this promptedthe Canadian governmentto go public.

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