Washington: A week into their diplomatic spat, the US responded with a softened tone to India's reconciliatory stress on preserving their "valuable" ties, but made no move to drop the charges against an Indian diplomat or offer an apology.
President Barack Obama left for Hawaii for his annual holiday without referencing the spat with India at his hour-long yearend press conference, an indication perhaps that the issue was not on his table and was not deemed serious enough to merit a comment from the White House.
Both countries meanwhile engaged in diplomatic conversations at various levels to find a solution to the stand-off sparked by the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Friday when asked if an apology was forthcoming. Instead she pointed to the comments of Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid earlier "where he talked about the importance of US-India relations, talked about how valuable they are.
"And we certainly fully agree that it's important to preserve and protect our partnership. It's not just about diplomatic ties," Psaki said. "So we will continue these discussions through diplomatic channels, through private conversations."
On the issue of dropping the charges of visa fraud against Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, Psaki stood firm saying "this is now a legal case, and of course the State Department doesn't have jurisdiction over that."
Even as she acknowledged that "our law enforcement authorities and the Government of India have some different interpretations of the issues and allegations at play," the official said "we have been clear about our position of certainly standing with our judicial colleagues."
On the issue of diplomatic immunity for Khobragade in her new job at India's Permanent Mission at the UN in New York, she said "when immunity is conferred, it does not retroactively take effect at a previous point in time, but relates solely to the diplomat's current status."