External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Thursday, amid the diplomatic rumpus between India and Canada stirred over the killing of a Khalistani separatist.
Although officials from both sides are tightlipped about the agenda of the meeting, the latest diplomatic crisis between two of America’s friends, its traditional ally Canada and India, is expected to come up prominently during the talks.
“I don’t want to preview the conversations he (Mr. Blinken) will have in that meeting (with Mr. Jaishankar), but as we’ve made clear, we’ve raised this; we have engaged with our Indian counterparts on this and encouraged them to cooperate with the Canadian investigation, and we continue to encourage them to cooperate,” State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.
He was responding to questions about the meeting between Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Blinken at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department here on Thursday afternoon (about midnight local India time).
The two leaders are expected to pose for pictures ahead of the meeting and are not expected to take any questions from the media.
While the meeting between the two top diplomats was scheduled much before the Canadian crisis broke out, the U.S. has been urging India to cooperate in the Canadian investigation into the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia early this year.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has alleged that the Indian government was behind the killing of Nijjar, 45, outside a gurdwara in Surrey in British Columbia on June 18. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
India has rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official. India has also asked Canada to crack down on terrorists and anti-India elements operating from its soil and suspended visa services for Canadians.
Mr. Miller said that the issue did not come up for discussion in New York during the Quad ministerial that involved foreign ministers of the US, India, Japan and Australia.
“It was a meeting of a number of countries and it did not come up in that meeting. But we have engaged with our Indian counterparts on this issue and urged them to fully cooperate with the Canadian investigation,” the State Department spokesperson said.
Mr. Jaishankar arrived in the American capital from New York after attending the annual General Assembly meetings of the United Nations on Tuesday.
In addition to his meeting with Blinken, the External Affairs Minister is expected to have a series of meetings with senior officials of the Biden administration, review the progress made between the two countries after the historic State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June and talk about other regional and global issues.
The Minister is also expected to engage with the diaspora, think-tank community and interact with leaders from the corporate sector.