Canada for 'private talks' with India over diplomatic standoff

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Tuesday said that the country wants "private talks with India to resolve a diplomatic dispute" over the killing of Khalistan terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Reuters reported.

“We are in contact with the government of India. We take Canadian diplomats' safety very seriously and we will continue to engage privately because we think diplomatic conversations are best when they remain private," Reuters quoted Joly as saying to reporters.

The statement by Joly comes after a report said India had asked Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats.

India has told Canada that it must repatriate the diplomats by October 10. Neither Joly nor Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded when asked if the report was accurate, as per Reuters.

There is a strain in India-Canada relations following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations regarding the Indian government's 'potential role' in the fatal shooting of Khalistan terrorist 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.

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 has 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. The country has said it wants to "work constructively with India" regarding the allegations.

Trudeau on Tuesday said that his country was not "looking to escalate the situation with India," adding that Ottawa wants to remain on the ground in New Delhi to help Canadians, Reuters reported.

"Canada is not looking to escalate the situation with India, will continue to engage responsibly and constructively with New Delhi. We want to be on the ground in India to help the Canadian families there," Reuters quoted Trudeau as saying.

Trudeau had said last week that Canada is still committed to building closer ties with India, despite “credible allegations of the Indian government’s involvement" in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canada-based National Post reported. India has rejected the claims as "absurd" and "motivated".

Pointing to the increasing influence of India worldwide, Trudeau said that it is "extremely important" that Canada and its allies continue to engage with India.

“India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. And as we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy, just last year, we’re very serious about building closer ties with India,” he had told reporters.

“At the same time, obviously, as a rule of law country, we need to emphasize that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts of this matter,” National Post quoted Trudeau as saying.


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