US secretary of state John Kerry met external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday in the highest-level meeting between the two sides since the Devyani Khobragade incident strained bilateral ties. The meeting took place at Montreux, Switzerland on the sidelines of Genveva-II dialogue on Syria.
During the meeting, where they reaffirmed the need to move forward with bilateral ties and exchanges, Khurshid underlined India’s concern over trafficking visas issued to Indian nationals by the US embassy in India, a foreign ministry statement said.
The same type of visa was allegedly issued to Devyani Khobragade’s housekeeper Sangeeta Richards family to fly them out of India soon after the arrest of Khobragade in New York on December 12 on charges of visa fraud.
Indians are among the top of the heap when it comes to those who get trafficking visas to the US. In 2012, 49 people from India got T2 visa meant for spouses of those who are trafficked and 79 people T3 visa (the children of those trafficked). In the same year, 130 T2 visas and 219 T3 visas were issued in the whole of Asia.
In 2011, the figure was 82 and 112 respectively for Indians in T2 and T3 category.
Besides the visa issue, the two sides stressed upon the need to have institutional arrangements to look at dealing with issues of diplomatic privileges.
“The two ministers reviewed recent developments in India-US relations. They agreed that the bilateral relationship was very important for both countries. Both sides looked forward to the early realisation of the mutually-agreed calendar of bilateral exchanges,” the statement said.
The bilateral exchanges included the visit of US Energy Secretary ErnestMoniz for the India-US energy dialogue and the visit of the commissioner of the US food and drug administration, Margaret Hamburg.
The two leaders also talked about the ongoing defence cooperation between India and the US during their meeting.