Kerry calls up Menon, regrets Indian envoy’s arrest

Washington, Dec 19: US Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday called up Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to discuss the arrest of India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade and expressed his “regret as well as concern”, saying that “we will not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India”.

A statement by US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that Kerry called up Menon to discuss the Dec 12 arrest of Deputy Consul General Khobragade.

“The secretary understands very deeply the importance of enforcing our laws and protecting victims, and, like all officials in positions of responsibility inside the US government, expects that laws will be followed by everyone here in our country.

“It is also particularly important to Secretary Kerry that foreign diplomats serving in the United States are accorded respect and dignity just as we expect our own diplomats should receive overseas,” the statement said.

Harf added: “As a father of two daughters about the same age as Devyani Khobragade, the secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Khobragade’s arrest.”

She said that in his conversation with National Security Advisor Menon “he (Kerry) expressed his regret, as well as his concern that we not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India.”

The 39-year-old Khobragade was strip-searched, cavity-searched and swabbed for DNA after her arrest in New York on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny. She was confined with criminals before being released on a $250,000 bail and surrendering her passport.

She faces a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted on both counts. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

IANS