Our focus is on achieving parity...": India reiterates call for reduction in Canadian diplomats
"Given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here...and their continued interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence.
NEW DELHI: Stating that India's focus is achieving 'parity' in terms of diplomatic presence, the Ministry of External Affairs further called for a reduction in Canadian diplomats in India citing their continued "interference" in New Delhi's "internal matters".
This comes amid the ongoing diplomatic row between India and Canada after which New Delhi suspended the visa operations to Canada and called for a reduction in Canadian diplomats in India.
Addressing the press briefing on Thursday, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "Given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here...and their continued interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence.
Discussions are ongoing on the modalities of achieving this". "Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction," he added.
On being asked if the reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats could see a decrease in the number of visas issued by the Canadian High Commission in India, Bagchi said, "It's up to the Canadian side, who they choose to staff the High Commission with...our concerns are related to ensuring parity in diplomatic presence".
He further added that India's primary focus is on two things; having an atmosphere in Canada, where Indian diplomats can work properly and in achieving parity in terms of diplomatic strength.
Last month too, India had cited Canada's "diplomatic interference in internal matters", and stated there should be a parity in diplomatic staff strength. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had recently alleged that the Indian government was behind the fatal shooting of Nijjar.
Trudeau, during a debate in the Canadian Parliament, claimed his country's national security officials had reasons to believe that "agents of the Indian government" carried out the killing of the Canadian citizen, who also served as the president of Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.
However, India has outrightly rejected the claims, calling it 'absurd' and 'motivated'. Notably, Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Meanwhile, Trudeau has said that Ottawa wants to "work constructively with India" regarding the allegations.
Nijjar, who was a designated terrorist in India, was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada's Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.