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MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi says, We seek parity in diplomatic staff, Canadian diplomats interfereing in internal matters

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 07, Oct 2023, 19:45 pm IST | UPDATED: 07, Oct 2023, 19:55 pm IST

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi says, We seek parity in diplomatic staff, Canadian diplomats interfereing in internal matters
New Delhi: Canada India relations have nosedived since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's statement in the Canadian Parliament on Sept 18 on Indian government agencies involved in the killing of Sikh terrorist Nijjar on Canadian soil. New Delhi  denied such allegations and have asked for verifiable proofs with EAM Jaishankar saying that if Ottawa provided credible proof we are open to looking at it.

After Canada expelled a senior diplmat from the Indian mission in Ottawa, New Delhi has asked Canada to reduce the number of diplomats in India which is much more than what Indian counsulates have in Canada. To a number of 20 Indian diplomats in Canada, Canada has 62 diplmats in India.

New Delhi has asked Canada to maintain parity in its staff in India and so has asked them to leave by Oct 10 or they loose Diplomatic immunity. Indian government has blamed Canadian diplomats of interfereing in India's internal affairs.

Trying to dial down on the tension Canada's Foriegn minister said that they now seek private conversations with India to address the issue of the allegations although no proof has yet been provided by Canada on Indian involvement in Nijjars killing. Movement of foreign diplomats from India to neighbouring countries is a rare development indicating nosediving relation between Ottawa and New Delhi.

In his weekly briefing MEA Sposkesperson Arindam Bagchi said, 'Insofar as discussions on parity, given the much higher diplomatic presence of Canadian diplomats or diplomatic presence here of Canada and their continuing interference in our internal affairs, we had and we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence. Discussions are ongoing on the modalities of achieving this. Regarding dates, I would not like to get into the details of diplomatic conversations. As we mentioned, I think last week, given that Canadian diplomatic presence is very much higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction. Our conversations are ongoing. We have sought parity.'

On cutting down the Canadian Mission's diplomatic staff, do you anticipate a decrease in the number of visas that the Canadian High Commission may be able to provide, particularly in states like Punjab and Gujarat, and for students who might be going for the fall or the spring terms in Canada, Bagchi said, 'yes, we had, I think, initially talked about expired visas, for those who required. But let me also clarify in the context of the parity, it's up to the Canadian side who they choose to staff their High Commission with.'

'We are looking at parity, we are looking at the fact that there have been interference and there has been a much higher number of Canadian diplomats here. And hence, the discussions on achieving parity are ongoing. Obviously, if the parity is achieved, given that Canada has a much larger number of people there, would likely be a reduction in the numbers.'

Since the Prime Minister of Canada made baseless allegations and India took a tough stand, Canada's PM has been changing his statements continuously. A statement from him said that India is an emerging economic power and an important geopolitical force and we are serious about building stronger relations. Did this statement come from Canada due to India's tough stand? Bagchi said, 'Our stand has been…we have focused on two things: one, ensuring that there is such a security situation wherein our diplomats can work normally, and we are looking for parity between our Embassies, in terms of the manpower, diplomats present here.'
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