In the ongoing tussle between India and US over the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade, the crucial energy security dialogue slated for this month has been postponed while the first visit to India of US assistant secretary of state for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, expected in January, also hangs in the balance.
And though no link has been officially drawn, Indian Space Research Organisation head K Radhakrishnan did not attend a US government-sponsored multinational outer space exploration meet on Thursday, sending Space Applications Centre associate director AS Kiran Kumar as the head of the Indian delegation instead.
The developments coincided with a New York court’s rejection of Khobragade’s request to extend a January 13 deadline for a preliminary hearing in her visa fraud case, the date by which she has to be indicted.
The US on Thursday announced that energy secretary Ernest Moniz was postponing his trip to a “mutually convenient date”. A US administration source said, “I can confirm secretary Moniz is no longer traveling to India next week.”
“We have been in conversation with our Indian counterparts about the dates and have agreed to hold the dialogue in the near future at a mutually convenient date,” the source added.
“We’re looking for a mutually convenient time in the near future,” said state department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
The Americans indicated the postponement was a joint decision. However, Indian joint secretary for the Americas, Vikram Doraiswamy, had told US ambassador Nancy Powell earlier this week that with the Khobragade issue still unresolved, it cannot be business as usual. Indian officials, on their part, said it was the US that postponed the trip.
The talks were expected to lead to significant progress in energy cooperation and the export of American shale gas to India. Officials in New Delhi said, requesting anonymity, that India had much riding on the dialogue — specially the next steps on cheap natural gas exports, sought by many countries.
According to sources, there are also no dates yet for Biswal’s visit.
The US embassy did not respond to an email from HT, seeking its comments.