October 12, 2023
NEW DELHI – Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly held a ‘secret meeting’ in Washington during their US visit last month, according to a report by Financial Times. The meeting was held in secret and the Canadian side chose not to comment on it when asked, the FT report added.
Jaishankar, during his US visit last month, met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NSA Jake Sullivan and the issue of Canada was discussed in both the meetings. Recently, Joly had said that Canada wants to have private conversations with India on the diplomats’ issue.
“Several days earlier, Joly also held a secret meeting with India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar in Washington, said people familiar with the situation. Canada’s foreign ministry declined to comment,” The Financial Times reported.
India had asked Canada to withdraw additional diplomats seeking parity in the diplomatic strength and gave a deadline by October 10. However, the diplomats continue to stay in India even as the deadline passed on Tuesday, the report stated.
The diplomatic row between India and Canada started after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of a role in the extra judicial killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen labeled terrorist by New Delhi. After Trudeau’s announcement, Joly named an Indian diplomat and expelled her for allegedly playing role in Nijjar’s killing.
India vehemently rejected Trudeau’s allegations, terming them “absurd” and “politically motivated”. New Delhi also sought specific evidence to support Trudeau’s allegations but received none from Ottawa.
India raised the issue of Khalistani threats to its diplomats in Canada and suspended visa services for Canadian nationals citing security reasons. The Indian government also expressed concerns over the presence of a large number of Canadian diplomats in the country, accusing them of “interference” in the country’s internal matters.
“India has cited the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as justifying its call for parity. Canada has rejected that argument, saying New Delhi is misreading the treaty that provides a framework for diplomatic ties,” the report added.