NEW DELHI : India kept up pressure on the United States on Sunday over a furore at the arrest and strip search of one of its diplomats in New York, saying "they must do something".
Foreign minister Salman Khurshid has sought to ease the crisis, saying the episode should not be allowed to derail "the valuable relationship" between the world's two largest democracies. But when told the US State Department had welcomed his remarks, Khurshid told the Press Trust of India news agency on Sunday: "They, the US, must do something. Welcoming is not enough."
Asked if he was hopeful of a resolution of the issue soon, Khurshid also said: "World keeps moving forward, world never dies, world never stops. Something will happen."
The crisis was sparked by the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general at its mission in New York, on December 12, over accusations that she underpaid her maid. Subsequent revelations that Khobragade was stripped by US Marshals and subjected to an invasive body search have caused outrage in India, which wants Washington to drop the case and offer an apology.
The US and India have been holding a series of talks to try to draw a line under the crisis, while US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed "regret" over the episode. Khurshid said on Friday that he hoped the "valuable relationship" with Washington would soon return to an even keel, remarks that he repeated on Saturday. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki pointed to Kurshid's comments during a press briefing, saying "we certainly fully agree that it's important to preserve and protect our partnership.
"It's not just about diplomatic ties. We have over $90 billion in bilateral trade. We're supporting thousands of jobs in both of our countries," she said in Washington on Friday. The diplomat, a mother of two, now free on bail, was arrested over accusations that she lied about the salary she was paying her Indian maid in a US visa application. According to New York authorities, she was paying the domestic worker a third of the figure mentioned in the visa application. But her treatment has caused outrage in India, which sees itself as an emerging power that should be treated with respect by an ally such as the US. India is trying to secure stronger diplomatic immunity for Khobragade by shifting her to its UN mission in New York, although such a move needs State Department approval.