Deeply concerned about Trudeau’s charges: Blinken on India-Canada row

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said America is deeply concerned about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist in Surrey and it is crucial that Ottawa’s investigation proceeds.

Tensions flared between India and Canada early this week following Trudeau’s explosive allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia on June 18.

India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

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.

Speaking at a press conference in New York on Friday, Blinken said, “We are deeply concerned about the allegations that Prime Minister Trudeau has raised. We’ve been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues, not just consulting, coordinating on this issue. And from our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceeds.”

His remarks came after the US said on Thursday that it supports Canada’s efforts to investigate allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar, observing that no country can get any “special exemption” for such kind of activities.

While Canada hasn’t yet provided any public evidence to back its claims, a media report said citing Canadian government sources that Ottawa’s allegations are based on both human and signals intelligence and inputs from an ally the Five Eye intelligence network.

The Five Eyes network is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The Canadian government has amassed both human and signals intelligence in a months-long investigation of the Sikh man’s death that has inflamed relations with India, CBC News, a division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, reported on Thursday quoting sources.

That intelligence includes communications involving Indian officials themselves, including Indian diplomats present in Canada, according to Canadian government sources.

Prime Minister Trudeau on Thursday said Canada is not looking to “provoke or cause problems” with India as he urged New Delhi to take the matter “extremely seriously” and work with Ottawa to “uncover the truth”.

India asked Canada to come down hard on terrorists and anti-India elements operating from its soil and suspended visa services for Canadians.

India also asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic staff in the country, arguing that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in the mutual diplomatic presence.

The size of Canadian diplomatic staff in India is larger than what New Delhi has in Canada.

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