India demands apology in Devyani row, US says no
The US today rejected India's demands of dropping visa fraud charges against senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade and apologising for mistreating her, saying the allegations were "very serious" and she would not be allowed to go scot-free. 'Maid, real victim in diplomat controversy' | India scales up pressure, wants US apology for 'Devyani issue'india Updated: Dec 20, 2013 19:52 IST
The US on Friday rejected India's demands of dropping visa fraud charges against senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade and apologising for mistreating her, saying the allegations were "very serious" and she would not be allowed to go scot-free.
State department spokesperson Marie Harf also made it clear that the immunity sought for 39-year-old Khobragade after her transfer to India's Permanent Mission to the UN is "not retroactive".
India had earlier on Friday demanded a categorical apology from the US in the Khobragade case, saying the country will not accept such behaviour in any circumstances.
"No formalities will be acceptable to us. They (US) should tender a clear apology. We will not accept this conduct against India under any circumstances. US has to understand that the world has changed, times have changed and India has changed," parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said.
The minister said the government has always maintained that the US has to apologise in the Devyani issue.
In Delhi, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said, "We will find a solution to the issue. As we deal with each other, we have to keep entire gamut of our bilateral relationship in mind,” Khurshid said, adding that it was important to preserve the relationship between India and the US.
The two sides had on Thursday discussed specific steps to resolve the situation during a telephone call made by US undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman to foreign secretary Sujatha Singh to follow up on the conversation secretary of state John Kerry had with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon on Wednesday.
US President Barack Obama was also briefed after which the White House described the arrest as an "isolated incident" and hoped that the matter would not derail bilateral ties.
"We take these allegations very seriously. We're not in any way walking back from those allegations or the charges. Again, this is really a law enforcement issue," Harf said in response to a volley of questions on the issue.
The spokesperson replied in the negative on being asked whether the deputy consul general in New York, arrested on December 12, would be allowed to go "scot-free".
"I don't know the details of the complaint, and I don't know if even withdrawing the complaint, which I'm not saying anybody is considering would, in fact, drop the charge. That's not something that's even being considered," Harf said.
"We certainly take these types of allegations very seriously though. It's not a decision for us whether to prosecute or not," Harf said.
Contradicting external affairs minister Salman Khurshid's remark on Thursday that the two sides were trying to lock a time for a conversation between him and Kerry, Harf said nothing was scheduled as of now.
"No plans (for Kerry) to (call Khurshid)," she said.
"I mean, he (Kerry) is always open to, but I think there was some misreporting out there today that he maybe (or) was planning to, and that's just not the case," she said.
Khurshid had said, "I was not available when John Kerry called. We are trying to lock a time for a call this evening or may be tomorrow. Kerry is in the Philippines and there is a huge time difference."
Kerry is on a year-end family vacation and would return to Washington after holidays, she said.