Washington, Sep 29 (IANS): External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Friday that India’s diplomatic row with Canada was discussed in his meeting with top US officials -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan -- and that he gave them both an exhaustive account of India’s case, which included its assessment of "a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists".
Jaishankar met Blinken and Sullivan on Thursday, his first day in Washington DC after the UN General Assembly meetings in New York.
The US readout of the meeting with Blinken and Jaishankar’s post on X said nothing about Canada.
But the minister acknowledged at an event at Hudson Institute, a think tank, that the matter did indeed come up in the discussions and the US officials presented their views on it.
"And I explained to them at some length, you know, what I gave you was a summary of the concerns which I had," Jaishankar said.
The "summary" he referred to was his presentation of India’s case he made just minutes before at the think tank in response to a question.
Here is what the minister said in the "summary": "Yes, the Canadian Prime Minister made some allegations; initially privately and publicly. And our response to him both in private and public were that what he was alleging was not consistent with our policy. And that if he had -- if his government -- had anything relevant and specific, they would like us to look into it, we were open to looking at it. And that’s where that conversation stood."
He went on: "But to understand that conversation, you have to also appreciate that this has been an issue of great friction for many years with Canada. In fact, going back to the 1980s. Then it became dominant. But in the last few years, it has come back very much into play, because of what we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremist people who openly advocate violence. And they have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canadian politics."
The minister called for another look at Canada, which is a close ally of the US and is often in lock-step with it on most international issues. "For Americans, perhaps Canada looks very different. But, you know, it sort of depends, you know, from where the interests, where the shoe pinches. For us, it has certainly been a country where organised crime from India mixed with trafficking in people mixed with secessionism, violence, terrorism. It's a very toxic combination of issues that people who have found operating space there. So a lot of our tensions with Canada, which well-preceded what Mr. (Justin) Trudeau said, actually come out of that."
The minister underscored his case against Canada by bringing up threats faced by Indian diplomats in Canada.
"Today, I’m actually in a situation where my diplomats are unsafe going to the embassy, or to the consulate in Canada. They are publicly intimidated, and that has actually compelled me to temporarily suspend visa operations in Canada."
The US has been supportive of Canada’s allegation that India was behind the killing of Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in Canada in June. In fact, key intelligence provided by the United States as part of a Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement with Canada (the US, Australia and New Zealand are the other three members) led to Trudeau first raising these allegations privately with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit and publicly in the Canadian parliament.
The US has publicly and privately urged India to cooperate with the investigation. New Delhi has dismissed the allegations as "absurd" but has said that if Canada has anything, it would take a look at it. But Ottawa has not provided any evidence to India or presented it publicly.