New Delhi, Dec 19:
India Thursday said it will not take a call immediately on restoring the special privileges of US diplomats that were taken away as a retaliatory measure after the handcuffing and strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York.
US Secretary of State John Kerry called National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to express regret over the arrest and strip-search of 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York.
Hours after the call, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the decision to revoke the paring down of privileges of US diplomats would not be taken in a hurry.
“Such decisions are not taken in a hurry. We will study the matter and then take a call,” the minister told IANS on the sidelines of an event here.
India has asked US diplomats to give back the diplomatic ID cards given to them by the Indian government, return airport passes and also removed extra police barricades around the US embassy here.
In a damage control exercise, Kerry called up the NSA and expressed concern that this “unfortunate public issue” of the arrest and strip-search of Khobragade should not be allowed to hurt “close and vital” India-US ties.
Khurshid said Kerry had also sought to speak to him Wednesday but he could not take the call as he was in Gurgaon. He said the US secretary of state, who is travelling, would be calling again.
Khurshid added that India had invested a lot in the relationship with the US and wanted the good ties to continue.
“Our relationship has a lot of investment. It is not an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly,” he said.
India has expressed outrage over the strip and cavity search of Khobragade, who has been charged with visa fraud and underpaying her nanny.
The issue figured in parliament, with lawmakers cutting across party lines, condemning the treatment meted out to the 39-year-old. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the incident “deplorable”.
Khobragade has been transferred to India’s Permanent Mission at the UN in New York which would provide her with more diplomatic immunity.