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US agrees with Manmohan Singh's remarks; says working to get ties on track

Saturday, 4 January 2014 - 11:33am IST | Agency: PTI

 The US has agreed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the arrest of an Indian diplomat has caused hiccups in bilateral ties, but said it is now focused on getting the relationship back on really strong footing.

"When you hear the Secretary (of State) express regret about something, that means that everything hasn't gone as it should," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.

She was responding to questions about the remarks made by Prime Minister Singh yesterday in New Delhi that the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US has resulted in hiccups in the bilateral ties.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested in December on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The 39-year-old diplomat was strip searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two sides with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps last month.

The United States has been describing this as an isolated incident and have been saying that it wants to move forward.

"What we're focused on now is getting the relationship back on really strong footing," Harf told reporters. "We just have too much important work to do together going forward on a host of issues in the region and around the world." The US, she said, continues to review the paper work that the State Department received from the UN on the transfer of Khobragade to the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, which would give her the necessary diplomatic immunity.

"There's a judicial process, a legal process underway, and I don't have any estimates for how long that will all take to play out. There's also our diplomatic discussions as well. Just nothing new to announce or guess about here today," Harf said in response to a question.

Meanwhile, Harf also said that a video currently in circulation on the social media, which claims to be allegedly showing the CCTV footage of Khobragade's strip search after her arrest is a hoax, dangerous and provocative fabrication.

"This video, which we are aware of, is absolutely not footage of Khobragade. We would call it a dangerous and provocative fabrication," she said. 


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