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US denies 'wedge' between relations with Canada over refusal to condemn Khalistani terrorist's killing

Sullivan's comments come after the US called for a 'transparent' investigation of Trudeau's explosive allegations against Indian government in Nijjar's death.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Washington Published on: September 22, 2023 11:43 IST
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
Image Source : AP US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan

As India-Canada relations deteriorated following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent allegations over the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the United States, which earlier called for a transparent probe, has refused claims of a 'wedge' between its relations with Canada after refusing to condemn Nijjar's killing.

In a press briefing, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, "...I have seen in the press some efforts to try to drive a wedge between the United States and Canada on this issue.  And I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the U.S. and Canada.  We have deep concerns about the allegations, and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account."

This comes amid growing tensions between India, and Canada after Justin Trudeau on Monday accused the Indian government of being behind the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The Khalistani terrorist was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada's Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.

The United States earlier said that the "serious allegations" levelled by the Canadian PM against India should be handled in a "transparent" way. "We urge India to cooperate in that investigation as well," said US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby at the time.

We want perpetrators to be held accountable: US

In Thursday's press briefing, Sullivan said that the US had expressed deep concern over Trudeau's allegations and reaffirmed its support for a law enforcement process to investigate the matter and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

"I’m not going to get into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but we are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts.  We are consulting with them closely, we support the efforts that they are undertaking in this investigation, and we have also been in touch with the Indian government as well," said Sullivan.

India-Canada relations at lowest point

After Trudeau's allegations against India, both countries expelled a diplomat and now New Delhi has suspended visa services for Canadian nationals and called for reduction in Canadian diplomats over the security situation and 'interference' in Indian matters, marking a dramatic decline in the bilateral relationship between both countries.

The Ministry of External Affairs has raised concerns about the ongoing developments related to the killing of Khalistani terrorists in Ottawa and tagged the allegations as "politically motivated". MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that Canada has not shared any proof of the allegations levelled by Trudeau.

Meanwhile, Trudeau on Thursday said that his government is ready to work with New Delhi to address standing issues, asserting that it does not mean to provoke New Delhi. "There is no question that India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with, not just in the region but around the world. We're not looking to provoke or cause problems. But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians," he said in a presser.

"That's why we call upon the government of India, to work with us to establish processes to discover and to uncover the truth of the matter and to allow justice and accountability to be served," added the Canadian PM.

The major development between the two nations came as PM Trudeau, who had recently visited New Delhi for the G20 Summit where he held a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, alleged that Canadian intelligence agencies have "credible" information about the involvement of New Delhi in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

ALSO READ | Canada is becoming a safe haven for terrorists and extremists: India hits out at Trudeau

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