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Canada moves diplomats from India to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore after New Delhi seeks downsizing: Report

The Ministry of External Affairs said that "discussions are ongoing to achieve the parity" amid reports of India seeking removal of 41 Canadian diplomats. The Ministry also cited "inteference in our internal matters" in asking for reduction.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Published on: October 06, 2023 17:02 IST
PM Narendra Modi with his Canadian counterpart Justin
Image Source : PTI PM Narendra Modi with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (R-L)

Canada has apparently relocated many of its diplomats in India to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore after Indian authorities sought a downsizing of Canadian diplomatic staff to achieve parity in strength and gave Ottawa a deadline of October 10, according to a report. 

This comes amid the ongoing dispute between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. CTV News reported that a majority of Canadian diplomats working outside Delhi in India have been shifted to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Earlier reports suggested that India asked to recall 41 Canadian diplomats, but CTV News' sources said that the request is specific to one of parity. Meanwhile, Global Affairs Canada alleged that some diplomats have received threats on social media platforms after which it was "assessing its staff complement in India".

"As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India," the department said some days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made explosive allegations of "potential" Indian involvement in Nijjar's killing.

MEA on India's request for downsizing

As reports claimed that India asked 41 Canadian diplomats to leave the country in order to maintain parity, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said that "discussions are ongoing to achieve the parity".

"On discussions on parity, given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here and their interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence. Discussions are ongoing to achieve this. Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

During the earlier presser, he had stressed that the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi was "more than it is required" and conveyed Ottawa to maintain parity in the diplomatic staff. The Ministry had strongly rebuffed Trudeau's allegations as "baseless" and "politically motivated".

On the other hand, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said that sought "private talks with India to resolve the ongoing diplomatic tensions" amid reports of downsizing. '"We are in contact with the Indian government. We take Canadian diplomats' safety very seriously and will continue to engage privately because we think diplomatic conversations are best when they remain private," she said.

Not looking to escalate row with India: Trudeau

Meanwhile, Trudeau on Tuesday said that he is "not looking to escalate" the tensions with New Delhi and wants to have constructive relations. "We're not looking to escalate, as I've said, we're going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time," CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying.

He further said that the dispute between both countries has made it "important for us to have diplomats on the ground working with the Indian government there to support Canadians and Canadian families." Trudeau asserted that his government was taking the matter extremely seriously and would attempt to engage "responsibly and constructively" with India.

(with agency inputs)

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