Washington: Amid the ongoing tension between India and Canada following PM Trudeau's explosive allegations of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Nijjar on his country's soil on June 18 EAM Jaishankar on Friday called out to Canada for it being a safe haven for terrorists and extremists who openly advocate violence.
Jaishankar, while speaking at an event in Washington DC on Friday, said, "There is a permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremists and people who brazenly support violence. These extremists have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canada's politics."
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged India to "cooperate fully" with the ongoing Canadian investigation into the killing of Nijjar, a senior state department official said on Friday, a day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met the top American diplomat here.
Jaishankar is currently on a five-day official trip to Washington DC. Thursday's meeting at the State Department was the highest-level interaction between the two countries after the recent G-20 Summit in New Delhi when President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met.
Tensions flared between India and Canada following Trudeau's explosive allegations of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Nijjar on his country's soil on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
Allegations "absurd" and "motivated"
India angrily rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
The Canadian Prime Minister, he said, made some allegations initially privately and then publicly. "Our response to him both in private and public was that his allegation was not consistent with our policy. And if he had, his government had anything relevant specifics, we would look into," he said.
Jaishankar said that for India, Canada has become a country where organized crime from India mixed with trafficking in people, mixed with secessionism and violence which is a very toxic combination of issues that people who have found operating space.
He acknowledged that there has been a lot between India and Canada on this issue preceding the remarks of the Canadian prime minister.
The minister alleged that the security situation in Canada is not good. There are open threats against Indian diplomats, and they don't feel safe. As a result, India has had to put a halt to its visa section. In Canada, he said, extremists and people are openly advocating violence and they have been given operating space in Canada.
Blinken urges India to cooperate fully with the ongoing Canadian investigation
"Secretary Blinken also took the opportunity to urge India to cooperate fully with the ongoing Canadian investigation," a State Department spokesperson said.
Jaishankar also confirmed for the first time that the US side raised the diplomatic row between India and Canada over the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June this year.
"Yes, I did," Jaishankar said in response to a question during his appearance at the prestigious Hudson Institute think-tank when asked if the issue of Canadian allegations came up during his meeting with Blinken at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
The US side shared its assessments on this whole situation and he explained to the Americans a summary of India's concerns. "I think hopefully we both came out better informed," Jaishankar said.
Earlier, the state department said Blinken met with Jaishankar and the two leaders discussed a full range of issues, including key outcomes of India's G20 presidency, and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and its potential to generate transparent, sustainable, and high-standard infrastructure investments.
Upcoming 2+2 Dialogue
The Secretary and the External Affairs Minister also emphasised the continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2+2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defense, space, and clean energy, the statement said without mentioning about the India-Canada diplomatic standoff.
"Great to meet my friend US Secretary of State @SecBlinken at the State Department today. A wide-ranging discussion, following up on PM @narendramodi's June visit. Also exchanged notes on global developments. Laid the groundwork of our 2+2 meeting very soon," Jaishankar posted on X on Friday.
"Thank you to Indian External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar for hosting @POTUS earlier this month. We discussed India's successful G20 presidency, creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, and the upcoming #USIndia 2+2 Dialogue in New Delhi," Blinken posted on X.
"I actually look forward to seeing you in Delhi for the 2+2," Jaishankar told Blinken, as the latter welcomed him at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department for the meeting.
India will host the fifth edition of India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, Jaishankar announced on Thursday. Although he did not reveal the dates of the meeting, it is learnt that the ministerial dialogue would be held in the first half of November.
The US delegation would be represented by Blinken along with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will lead the Indian delegation.
Jaishankar's meeting with top officials
Jaishankar, who arrived here from New York on Wednesday after addressing the 78th General Assembly session of the United Nations on Tuesday, held a series of meetings with top Biden administration officials on Thursday.
He started the day with a visit to the White House for a meeting with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The White House did not issue a readout of the meeting.
"Recognised the tremendous progress in our bilateral relationship this year and discussed taking it forward," Jaishankar posted on X.
After a meeting with representatives of the think tanks from Washington DC, Jaishankar met US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
"Spoke about our expanding trade and economic relationship and its broader significance," he wrote on X.
"Today I met with" Jaishankar "to discuss the positive momentum of the U.S.-India trade relationship, and opportunities to collaborate on WTO reform and IPEF negotiations," Tai said.
EAM calls his conversations with think tanks 'Open and productive'
Jaishankar described his meetings with the think tanks as an open and productive conversation.
"Discussed transformations underway around the world and India's growing role," he said.
Jaishankar also met members of the US Congress on Thursday."Pleased to meet Members of Congress, Administration, business and think tank heads at India House. "Our regular conversations keep India-US relationship strong," he wrote on X.
On Friday, Jaishankar will speak on 'India's Role in the World Today' at the prestigious Hudson Institute think-tank.