Amid row over Devyani Khobragade case, US Energy Secretary cancels India trip

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New Delhi:  In the worst setback to Indo-US ties since Devyani Khobragade's case turned into a full blown diplomatic row, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz cancelled his visit to India to attend the annual dialogue on energy cooperation between the two countries.

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said, "in order to find a time to allow both sides to deliver on the important issues that we need to from both sides, we're looking for a mutually convenient time in the near future that will permit both sides to do that."

This comes as a US court refused Ms Khobragade's request to extend the January 13 deadline for her indictment.

Ms Khobragade was transferred to India's Permanent Mission to the UN, but she is yet to receive a clearance from the US. More than 20 days after the UN submitted it, America continues to 'review' the visa application of Ms Khobragade, which would give her full diplomatic immunity. The unusual delay has upset Indian officials.

India has ratcheted up pressure on the US to send a message that it means business.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said India is not doing anything except what is appropriate on the reciprocal arrangements.

The American embassy has been asked to give the details of how much is the local staff paid, new ID cards have been issued to consular staff and diplomats, privileges given to them would be based on the tradition of diplomatic reciprocity.

But despite the strong message, the US is taking its time.

Senior journalist Sidharth Vardharajan told NDTV, "the US feels they have taken a stand and they shouldn't walk away from it too easily but they should have thought about the impact this would have on the bilateral ties. It looks like it's going to worsen until it gets better, because India is in election year and there is no way India would back down."

US and India's partnership was being hailed as the partnership of the future in Asia. But instead of focussing on security and energy cooperation, the two countries are busy finding an agreeable solution to Ms Khobragade's case. India has clearly said resolution to this case is the basis to move the relationship forward.


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