US has no plans to drop charges against Khobragade

Washington, Dec 20: Even as it described the relationship with India as “incredibly important” the US has made clear that it has no plans to drop charges against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade to deescalate the situation.

“No body is walking away from the charges,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Thursday.

It was also “not true”, she said that the department was putting pressure on New York’s US Attorney Preet Bharara to drop the case against Khobragade, whose arrest and strip search have sparked the worst India-US stand off in years.

Following up on Secretary of State John Kerry’s expression of “regret” to India’s Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman made another call Thursday to Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.

The expression of “regret” was over the way the whole matter was handled. But the charges against Khobragade were a different matter, Harf said adding “We take law enforcement seriuously”.

Sherman and Singh discussed specific steps to resolve the situation, she said: “Our focus now is how to take this incredibly important relationship forward” and that this incident does not impact the relationship adversely.

Harf declined to say whether Sherman had also distanced the State Department from the statement issued by Bharara on the diplomat’s case to which India has taken umbrage.

She also declined comment on the Bharara statement casting “implicit” aspersions on the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

IANS