‘Deeply concerned’ US wants India to cooperate with Canada in Nijjar murder probe: Antony Blinken

The United States is worried about what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said about India’s potential hands in the murder of a Khalistani activist and wants the Indian nation, with whom US has developed a cordial relation, to cooperate with Canada’s investigation into the killing.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on on Friday that Washington is “deeply concerned” about the allegations in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India had designated as a terrorist years ago.

The US wants to see accountability and called it “important” that the investigation runs its course and leads to the result, Blinken said.

During a press conference in New York, Blinken said that the US has talked directly with the Indian government. The US is talking and working “very closely” with Canada on this matter. He said that it’s important for India to cooperate with Canada in the investigation.

“We’ve been consulting throughout, very closely, with our Canadian colleagues — not just consulting, coordinating,” Blinken said.

On Monday, Canada had expelled a top Indian diplomat while it probed what their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said ‘credible allegations’ that the Indian government probably had links to the murder of the Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.Trudeau said Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations”. He also repeated a call on Friday for India to participate in the probe.India has rejected Canada’s allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar last year.

New Delhi called Canada’s allegations “absurd and motivated”.

The Indian government too Canadian High Commissioner to India, Cameron MacKay, and expelled a senior diplomat and later stopped visa services for Canadians. India has also issued an advisory asking its nationals in Canada to exercise utmost caution, as diplomatic ties between the nations worsened.

Asked about US’ engagement with India and Canada amid the diplomatic row, Blinken said, “We are deeply concerned about the allegations that Prime Minister Trudeau has raised. We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues, and not just consulting, coordinating with them on this issue.”

“And from our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceed. And it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability, and it’s important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result,” he added.

He refused to give details regarding the diplomatic conversations that US had with both nations. He said that investigation must move forward and be completed. He expressed hope that India will cooperate with the probe that the Canadian government is making regarding the issue.

Blinken said, “I’m not going to characterize or otherwise speak to diplomatic conversations that we’ve have. We’ve been engaged directly with the Indian government as well. And again, I think the most productive thing that can happen now is to see this investigation move forward, be completed. And we would hope that our Indian friends would cooperate with that investigation as well.”

“More broadly, you’ve heard me speak to this. We are extremely vigilant about any instances of alleged transnational repression, something we take very, very seriously. And I think it’s important more broadly for the international system that any country that might consider engaging in such acts not do so. So, it’s something that we’re also focused on in a much broader way,” he added.

The diplomatic dispute has created a tricky situation for President Joe Biden. In recent times, he has been trying to build a stronger relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as part of a larger strategy in the Indo-Pacific region to compete with China. However, the United States also has strong trade and political connections with its neighboring country to the north. Canada is not only a member of the Group of Seven (G7) but also part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which includes Australia, the UK, and New Zealand.

In a news conference on Thursday, the Canadian Prime Minister, however, failed to present any evidence to back Canadian claims. Trudeau was repeatedly quizzed on the nature of the allegations but stuck to reiterating that there were “credible reasons” to believe that India was linked to the death of Nijjar.

“There are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil. That is …there is something of utmost foundational importance in a country’s rule of law in a world where international rules-based order matters” said Trudeau.

“We call upon the Government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter” he added.

In response to a query, Trudeau said, “We are standing for the rule of law or highlighting how unacceptable it would be for any country to be involved in the killing of a citizen on its own soil.”

“I think it is important that as a country with a strong, independent justice system … we allow those justice processes to unfold themselves with the utmost integrity. but I assure this decision to share these allegations on the floor in the House of Commons on Monday morning was not made lightly and was done with utmost seriousness,” Canadian PM said.

(with ANI inputs)

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