Amid a rift in ties between New Delhi and Ottawa, the Foreign Minister of Canada, Melanie Joly, has said that she is in close contact with her Indian counterpart, S Jaishankar, adding that it is a difficult moment in relationship between the two nations that has spanned decades. Melanie Joly held a virtual news conference on Thursday to discuss her participation in the recent G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, which took place in Tokyo.
During the conference, Joly discussed Canada’s diplomatic standoff with India, especially at a time when relations between the two countries remain strained. She said, “When it comes to India, I have mentioned it many times…I am in close contact with my counterpart, S Jaishankar, and we know this is a difficult moment in a relationship that spanned decades, so therefore I am confident that we will be able to get through this difficult period, as we know that we have many interests also that we can work together in common.
” Highlighting the issue of 41 Canadian diplomats withdrawn from India, she stated that Canadian diplomats had to leave India because their immunities were taken back. “Of course we talk about our relationship within the Indo-Pacific with all our friends and like-minded…and of course…we are preoccupied by Induia’s decision to get rid of the diplomatic immunities of 41 of our Canadian diplomats which put their safety at risk,” she said. “And, we are happy to see that there is clear language in the declaration (G7 declaration) reaffirming the importance of the Vienna Convention and the diplomatic immunities that are part of this,” she added.
On being asked by the reporters if the dispute is settled now, the Canadian Foreign Minister added by saying, “Well, first and foremost, I have said it many times that Canadian diplomats had to leave India because their immunities were taken back…and I said that Canada would not retaliate…” Notably, the diplomatic tensions between India and Canada escalated following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of India’s link to the killing of Khalistani Tiger Force Chief, Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. Trudeau, during a debate in the Canadian Parliament, claimed his country’s national security officials had reasons to believe that “agents of the Indian government” carried out the killing of the Canadian citizen, who also served as the president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.
However, India had outrightly rejected the claims, calling it ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’. Notably, Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, who was a designated terrorist in India, was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada’s Surrey, British Columbia on June 18. Notably, amid a diplomatic standoff with Canada, India had halted its visa services till “further notice” in September. However, last month, India decided to resume visa services in Canada for four categories after a considered review of the security situation which “takes into account some recent Canadian measures in this regard”. Entry visa, Business visa, Medical visa and Conference visa are four categories in which India decided to resume visa services in Canada with effect from October 26.