The US has said the Khobragade episode will witness a “closure” with the Indian diplomat’s departure for home, and India sending one of its officials back. But on Monday, India said it would move forward in the relationship based on its “past experience”.
Asked about the US calling the tit-for-tat episode a “closure”, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, said, “We will take each day as it comes, because it is important to look back and forward”. The relationship between India and the US is not a one-issue relationship, he said. “We have a series of issues that we are engaged. We will take up this matter after carefully examining what has been our experience in the past.”
But despite the ministry stance, on Monday, Indian and US officials, met for bi-annual intelligence discussion over a wide range of security issues between the two countries. This was the first bilateral interaction between the two countries since the arrest of Khobragade.
The meeting was held between a team of US officials from the office of the Director of National Intelligence and a team of Joint Intelligence Committee, led by Ajit Lal. The Indian side gave its intelligence assessment of the neighbourhood, while the US shared a global perspective. The three-day dialogue is of importance to India in the wake of proposed withdrawl of US-led troops from Afghanistan this year.
The meeting though, does not imply a quick thaw in the issue of “strict reciprocity”. Asked about whether the extra privileges of the US diplomats which were withdrawn, Akbaruddin had said the status quo would remain.
India has already made it clear that it will continue to press for dropping of visa fraud charges against diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested on December 12 in New York and subsequently indicted.