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India committed to ensure parity in our diplomatic presence: MEA on Canadian diplomats still in Delhi

Amid reports that India asked 41 Canadian diplomats to leave the country in order to maintain parity of diplomats, the Ministry of External Affairs did not reject the media report but said that "discussions are ongoing to achieve the parity".

Ajeet Kumar Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: October 12, 2023 18:19 IST
India-Canada row
Image Source : PTI/FILE Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau

The Ministry of External Affairs, on Thursday, reiterated about maintaining parity in Canadian diplomats in New Delhi while maintaining a tough stance over the soaring extremist issues in Ottawa. While addressing a press briefing in the national capital, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, "We remain committed to ensuring parity in our diplomatic presence," and added that "discussions are ongoing to achieve the the same." 

Earlier, a media report claimed that India ordered the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi to minimise their diplomats in order to maintain 'parity' and to avoid their interference in India's internal matters.

But, during the earlier presser, he stressed that the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi were "more than it is required" and conveyed Ottawa to maintain parity in the diplomatic staff.

Did Jaishankar hold a secret meeting with his Canadian counterpart?

Earlier on Tuesday, a US media report claimed that the Canadian Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, held a "secret meeting" with his Indian counterpart, S Jaishankar, in Washington when the latter visited New York earlier last month. Replying to the report, Bagchi said, "We have been in touch with the Canadians at various levels." 

Notably, the tension between the two nations soared tremendously following Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's allegations against New Delhi where in he claimed Ottawa has "credible information" that Indian agents were involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on July 19. However, the claims were outrightly rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs, where spokesperson Bagchi, dubbed the allegations "baseless" and "politically motivated".

Canada wants "private talks" as the matter escalates 

A day after a foreign media report claimed India asked Canada to minimise staff from its New Delhi-based embassy, the Canadian foreign minister refrained from commenting directly on the reports, but said Ottawa sought "private talks with India to resolve the ongoing diplomatic tensions".

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly asserted that the Canadian government were in close contact with its Indian counterparts and added PM Justin Trudeau-led government would like to engage "privately". 

'"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.

Trudeau says he does not want to escalate the matter

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. The Canadian PM also acknowledged that Ottawa was going through an "extremely challenging time" with New Delhi.

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.

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