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Indian and Canadian officials have been in contact “at various levels” following a confrontation over Canadian accusations that India may have been involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in suburban Vancouver, an official in New Delhi said Thursday.
The spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry, Arindam Bachi, declined, however, to confirm or deny media reports that the Indian and Canadian foreign ministers met in Washington two weeks ago.
“We have been in touch with the Canadians at various levels. Regarding this specific interaction, I don’t have any particular information to share,” Bagchi told reporters in New Delhi.
He reiterated that India remains determined to reduce Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country. A Canadian official said recently that India has told Canada to remove 41 of its 62 diplomats in the country.
“We remain engaged with Canadian authorities on modalities of achieving that,” he said. Bagchi didn’t provide details of the conversation between the two countries or indicate any deadline for fulfilling the Indian demand.
INDIA CHAFES AGAINST UN SECURITY COUNCIL IN FINAL DAY AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
An Indian official will not confirm a reported meeting of ministers over a Sikh leader’s killing in Canada. (Fox News)
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Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said last month that there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh leader who was killed by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, outside Vancouver.
Responding to a question about Trudeau raising the allegations and the dispute with India with other world leaders, Bagchi said “I really don’t know really how this helps address the core issue: that is, the space given by Canada to terrorists and criminal elements.”
For years, India has accused Canada of giving free rein to Sikh separatists fighting for the creation of “Khalistan,” a separate Sikh nation in India’s northern Punjab state.
“We would urge Canada to take more seriously their international obligations to provide security to our diplomats and their premises,” he said. He was referring to threats issued by Canada-based Sikh separatist leaders to Indian diplomats posted in the North American country after the killing of the Sikh leader.
India canceled visas for Canadians after Trudeau made the accusation of Indian involvement in Nijjar’s killing. Canada did not follow suit but expelled a senior Indian diplomat, after which India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat.