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India says U.S. could have avoided 'mini-crisis,' more to be done

New Delhi: India on Saturday blamed the United States for a "mini crisis" over the arrest and strip search of an Indian envoy, and said more work was needed to repair ties a day after the withdrawal of diplomats seemed to draw a line under the dispute.

Devyani Khobragade, 39, who was India's deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested in December on charges of visa fraud and lying to U.S. authorities about what she paid her housekeeper. Khobragade's arrest and strip-search provoked protests in India and dealt a serious blow to U.S. efforts to strengthen ties.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the United States should have warned senior officials visiting Washington a day before Khobragade's arrest by State Department security in December.

"It wasn't even mentioned," Khurshid told the CNN-IBN television network. He called the row a "mini crisis" and said India should have been given the chance to withdraw Khobragade before she was arrested.

He said the core of the U.S.-Indian relationship was very strong and that he didn't expect lasting damage from what has turned into the biggest rift in years.

"I think we've found that at least the immediate, immediate concerns have been addressed," Khurshid said. "But there's a lot more still to do."

He did not clarify what else must be done to avoid lasting damage to ties between the countries, who share some $100 billion in annual trade.

The two countries cooperate on a wide range of issues including counter-terrorism, regional security and defense. India is also a major market for U.S. weapons.

Khobragade returned to New Delhi on Friday following a deal that let her leave the United States after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

Since her return she has limited comment on the case to expressing thanks for the support she has received in India, where her treatment caused fury in the foreign service and broader antagonism towards the United States.

"I'm really grateful for all your support, my government will speak for me, my lawyer will speak for me," she told reporters on Saturday.

Source: Reuters

 

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