NEW YORK - The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has called on India to cooperate with Canada and ensure “accountability” over the killing of a Sikh separatist, after Ottawa accused Delhi of involvement.
Blinken said the United States has been in touch with both India, with which it has warming ties, and Canada, a close ally, after the two countries engaged in tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.
“We want to see accountability. And it’s important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result,” Blinken said in New York on Friday, where he was taking part in the UN general assembly. “We would hope that our Indian friends would cooperate with that investigation as well.” Blinken, without commenting directly on the substance of the allegations, said the US took “very, very seriously” incidents of “transnational repression”
“I think it’s important, more broadly, for the international system that any country that might consider engaging in such acts not do so,” he said.
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, sparked the diplomatic row this week when he said on Monday that his government was looking at “credible allegations potentially linking” India to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Canadian Sikh leader. In June, Nijjar was shot and killed in front of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. He was a strong advocate of the Khalistan movement, which seeks an independent homeland for Sikhs in India’s Punjab region. India had previously alleged Nijjar was part of a plan to murder a Hindu priest in Punjab, offering a bounty of nearly $12,000 (£9,688). Trudeau told parliament: “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. “Canada is a rule-of-law country, the protection of our citizens and defence of our sovereignty are fundamental.” The foreign affairs minister, Mélanie Joly, said Canada had expelled a “key Indian diplomat” and “expects India to fully collaborate with us and ultimately to get to the bottom of this”.