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Diplomat arrest row: India 'reciprocates' by withdrawing ID cards of US consulate staff

Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - 7:39pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Issues replacement cards to consular officials, but not to their families, to "ensure strict reciprocity"

India is not backing down from taking reciprocal steps against the US following the arrest of Indian deputy consul general in New York Devyani Khobragade, and “all identity cards provided to US consular officials now stand withdrawn”.

“India has decided to take firm reciprocal steps following the end of the deadline for surrender of identity cards provided to US Consular Staff in India. All identity cards provided to US consular officials now stand withdrawn,” said officials on condition of anonymity.

They added that “new cards which are exact replicas of cards provided to Indian consulate officials in the US are being given in lieu of the withdrawn cards”. These cards will be given only to consular officials and not to their family members since the family members of Indian consulate officials in the US too are not provided such cards. Earlier, family members of US consular officials were given such cards.

“This will ensure strict reciprocity in terms of the identity cards being carried by Indian and US consular officials in each others’ countries,” they said.

Expressing anger over Khobragade’s arrest, India last week took “unprecedented” measures, including revoking airport passes of US diplomats and their families. The Delhi police also removed the security barricades form outside the US embassy.

India also sought exhaustive information from the US, such as salary details of all Indian staff employed in their embassy and consulate offices. They have also asked for salary details of domestic helps employed by consulate officers and their families. India had also asked all US consulate personnel and their families to surrender their identity cards immediately. US was also to provide salary details of all their Indian and non-Indian staff working at American schools in India. “India has also got data regarding US schools. It is being analysed and assessed,” the officials said.

Further in terms of reciprocity, the US consular staff will now only be permitted to import their requirements, such as food and alcohol, during the first six months on assuming office as is provided in the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations. “Previously, they were allowed to import their requirements over the three-year period of tenure,” sources added.

New Delhi dismissed concerns regarding security of US diplomatic officials in India stating that India takes its Vienna Convention obligations very seriously. Changes have been made in traffic movement patterns but not in security status of the US embassy in New Delhi with security personnel being continuously being deployed at check posts at the embassy. “There is no change in the security situation and all US diplomatic and consular officials are being provided security as before,” sources reiterated.

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