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Indian envoy to NZ staying in a hotel

KP Ernest is putting up in a hotel as his predecessor H Dogra is yet to vacate the official residence.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 11:53 IST

Newly-appointed Indian high commissioner to New Zealand, KP Ernest, is having to put up in a hotel here as his recalled predecessor, Harish Kumar Dogra, who has been given 10 days to leave New Zealand, is yet to vacate the official residence.

Media reports here quoted Ernest, who arrived on Monday, as saying that he was he was saddened by the state of affairs and expressing the hope that the matter would be sorted out soon.

Ernest is scheduled to present his credentials to New Zealand governor-general Dame Silvia Cartwright on Wednesday.

Dogra, who has triggered a diplomatic controversy by refusing to follow New Delhi's order issued in the middle of last month to return from his posting, was given the marching orders on Monday.

A New Zealand foreign ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying that Dogra has been given a 10-day special visa to sort out things before leaving the country.

However, a report in the Dominion Post newspaper quoted Dogra as saying that he planned to stay in New Zealand for some time "to take a break".

At the same time, the report said, Dogra planned Monday night to hand over the keys of the official residence at Lower Hutt here to Ernest.

Dogra's wife, Neeta, has been reportedly offered help by some Indian friends in the country.

According to the Post report, the Dogras have been ordering takeaway meals from an Indian restaurant here and a friend is looking for a home here for the embattled diplomat and his family.

Last Friday, a removal van sent to collect the personal possessions of the Dogras from the official residence was turned back.

The report quoted Ernest, a former ambassador to Ethiopia and Chile and a junior of Dogra, as saying, "I hope to see him (Dogra) and if I meet him I will pass on my greetings and good wishes and I am certain to ask him when he would travel home."

Dogra's wife and son have reportedly decided to settle down in New Zealand and are applying for visas.