External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday that India will resume visa services for Canadians if Indian diplomats are promised security in Canada, reported ANI.
On September 21, India indefinitely suspended visa services in Canada citing security threats to its officials. This came amid a widening rift between the two countries in the wake of Canada’s allegations that Indian agents were involved in Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination near Vancouver in June.
India quickly dismissed Ottawa’s claims as “motivated” and asked Canada to take legal action against “anti-Indian elements” operating from its soil instead.
At an event in Delhi, Jaishankar said that ensuring the safety and security of diplomats is the most fundamental aspect of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the cornerstone of international relations and international law.
“And right now that is what has in many ways been challenged in Canada that our people are not safe, our diplomats are not safe,” he said.
Stating that the relationship between India and Canada was going through a “difficult phase”, the minister reiterated that India sought reduced Canadian diplomatic presence in the country due to concerns about “continuous interference” in its internal affairs.
“We have not made much of that public,” said Jaishankar. “My sense is, over a period of time, more stuff will come out and people will understand why we had the kind of discomfort with many of them, which we did.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on October 19 that her government had withdrawn 41 of its 62 diplomats from India. She also said that Canada would not take the retaliatory step of asking India to withdraw its diplomats.
Joly said that India had threatened to unilaterally revoke the diplomats’ official status by October 20 if they did not leave the country. She called this “unreasonable and escalatory” and claimed that New Delhi revoking the diplomats’ official status violated the Vienna Convention.
A day later, New Delhi said that it rejects any attempt to portray implementing parity as a violation of international norms. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that the number of Canadian diplomats in India is high and that their alleged interference in the country’s internal affairs demands a parity in mutual diplomatic presence.
Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller has said that reducing the number of diplomats will cause delays in processing visas and immigration applications for Indians.