The U.S. State Department closed a long week of discussions on the case of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arrested in New York on December 12, reiterating that it believed she would not be protected from prosecution even if she were reassigned to the United Nations, but that the case should not affect bilateral ties.
On Friday, Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that while Secretary of State John Kerry had been unable to reach Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid. “He looks forward to speaking with him soon… We’re lining up schedules on that.”
Stressing the depth and diversity of the broader relationship between India and the U.S., Ms. Psaki noted that Mr. Khurshid alluded to how “valuable” these ties were. Beyond the diplomatic relations, she pointed out, there was “$90 billion in bilateral trade supporting thousands of jobs in both countries,” close counterterrorism cooperation and engagement on a range of issues, including Afghanistan.
However, she reiterated the point, made earlier in the week, that the State Department did not have jurisdiction over the legal case against Ms. Khobragade, which stems from allegations of visa fraud and the claim that she underpaid her domestic worker from India Sangeeta Richard.
Expressing solidarity with Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who on Wednesday refuted numerous allegations made about Ms. Khobragade’s treatment during her detention, Ms. Psaki clarified: “We have been clear about our… position of certainly standing with our judicial colleagues.”
She admitted that U.S. law enforcement authorities and the government of India had different interpretations of the “issues and allegations at play.” There was also no change in the U.S. position on the question of immunity that Ms. Khobragade would receive at the U.N.; officials earlier indicated that it would not be retroactive, thus potentially leaving her open to prosecution.
Although the Indian government was said to have effected the transfer of the Deputy Consul-General in New York to the Permanent Mission of India to the U.N., Ms. Psaki said Washington had “not yet received an official request through the proper channels for accreditation.”