Khurshid, Kerry meet, discuss Khobragade issue

New Delhi, Jan 22: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and US Secretary of State John Kerry held bilateral talks Wednesday on the sidelines of the Geneva-II talks – meeting for the first time after the India-US spat over the handcuffing and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

During their meeting in Montreux, both sides discussed the Khobragade issue and “recognized the need to put in place institutional arrangements to look at all outstanding issues relating to the privileges and immunities of diplomats of both countries so that such issues could be resolved in a timely manner”, said a statement here.

Khurshid “also underlined India’s concern over trafficking visas issued to Indian nationals by the US Embassy in India”.

The two ministers also reviewed recent developments in India-US relations and agreed that the bilateral relationship was very important for both countries.

Both sides looked forward to the early realization of the mutually-agreed calendar of bilateral exchanges, including the visit of US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for the India-US Energy Dialogue and the visit of the US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Mention was also made of ongoing defence cooperation between India and the US, said the statement.

The two ministers agreed to remain in contact to follow up on the progress on these issues, it added.

The Dec 12 handcuffing and strip search of Khobragade had led to outrage in India and thrown bilateral ties into a tailspin. Khobragade, the then Indian deputy consul general in New York, was arrested on charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny, which she has denied.

IANS