External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that Canada has given operative space to terrorists and extremists, adding that it is an issue that has been a point of contention for long between the two countries.

“In the last few years, it [diplomatic crisis with Canada] has come back into play because of what we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremists who openly advocate violence,” Jaishankar in response to a question at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC.

The minister also said that he has spoken about the ongoing diplomatic crisis between India and Canada with Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor of the United States.

The statements come amid the deteriorating diplomatic ties between India and Canada. Ottawa alleged last week that the Indian government may be behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil.

The comments pertained to Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force, who was shot dead in the parking lot of a gurdwara in Surrey near Vancouver on June 18. The Khalistan Tiger Force has been designated a terrorist outfit in India.

India quickly dismissed Ottawa’s claims as “motivated” and asked Canada to take legal action against “anti-Indian elements” operating from its soil instead.

“For us, it [Canada] has certainly been a country where organised crime from India, mixed with trafficking, secessionism, violence and terrorism have found a space,” Jaishankar said on Friday. “Today, I am actually in a situation where my diplomats are unsafe going to the embassy, or to the consulate in Canada.”

On the Canadian allegations about the Indian government’s alleged involvement in the killing of Nijjar, he reiterated that it was not India’s policy.

“If he [Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] or his government had anything relevant and specific that they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it,” said Jaishankar. “That is where that conversation is at this point in time.”

US statement on Jaishankar-Blinken meet

Jaishankar met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday evening. A US spokesperson Matthew Miller statement following the meeting made no mention of Nijjar’s killing, even though Trudeau had said he was sure Washington DC would raise the matter.

“Yes, the Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” Trudeau had said while responding to a question on whether Blinken would bring up the case with Jaishankar. “The Americans will certainly discuss these challenges with the Indian government.”

However, the US statement said that the two discussed key outcomes of India’s G20 presidency and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.