India, U.S. seek to mend fences after diplomat's ouster

Jan. 11, 2014 at 11:08 AM
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NEW DELHI, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- India's foreign minister said Saturday the dispute over the arrest a diplomat in New York did not mean relations with the United States were in trouble.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters that the two nations would sort out their differences of opinion over the arrest of Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud, Voice of America said.

Khobragade, 39, arrived in New Delhi late Friday after being kicked out of the United States. She was expelled after India increased her level of diplomatic immunity so she would not be prosecuted by New York authorities.

"Devyani Khobragade given G1 visa with full diplomatic immunity on 8 Jan 2014. Airborne on way back to India," Syed Akbarrudin, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said in a statement on social media, Britain's The Independent said

Khobragade was arrested last month for allegedly failing to pay her housekeeper minimum wage and lying about it when she applied for her visa to work as the deputy counsel-general for the Indian delegation to the United Nations.

India responded to Khobragade's arrest and her alleged treatment in jail with a protest and the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat stationed in India. Press Trust India said the ousted American, identified as Wayne May, had helped authorities develop their case against Khobragade

Despite Khobragade's increased level of immunity, the U.S. State Department said the charges would remain in effect and she faced arrest if she ever tried to return to the United States.

"We deeply regret that the Indian government felt it was necessary to expel one of our diplomatic personnel," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.

"This has clearly been a challenging time in the U.S.-India relationship," Psaki added. "We expect and hope that this will now come to closure and the Indians will take significant steps with us to improve our relationship and return it to a more constructive place."

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