- POSTED: 11 Jan 2014 04:22
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The United States on Friday said it hoped that a diplomatic row with India was now over, admitting that ties between the usually close allies had been through "a challenging time".
WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday said it hoped that a diplomatic row with India was now over, admitting that ties between the usually close allies had been through "a challenging time".
Relations have been in crisis since December 12 when Indian consulate worker Devyani Khobragade was arrested in New York for alleged visa fraud and making false statements about the employment of a domestic servant she had brought with her from India.
Khobragade was formally charged in a New York court, but was granted diplomatic immunity on Wednesday allowing her to leave the US to fly home.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed again on Friday that the charges remained in place, and revealed that here diplomatic immunity expired on returning to India.
Khobragade will also not be allowed to return to the US unless she surrenders to the court on arrival, and her name is being placed on American visa and immigration watchlists "to prevent the routine issuance of any future visa."
It was also possible that a warrant could be issued for her arrest now she has left the United States, Psaki said.
"This has clearly been a challenging time in the US-India relationship," Psaki said.
"We expect and hope that this will now come to closure, and the Indians will now take significant steps with us to improve our relationship."
But she confirmed that New Delhi had asked Washington to withdraw a specific embassy official in a fresh measure against the US diplomatic corps in India.
"We deeply regret that the Indian government felt it was necessary to expel one of our diplomatic personnel," Psaki said.
"We're looking to move our relationship forward. We're looking to move past this challenging time, and we hope they'll be a partner in that."
Khobragade's lawyer Dan Arshack told AFP that she was pleased to be returning to India.
"Her head is held high. She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known," he said in a statement to AFP.
"We are pleased that the United States Department of State did the right thing today by recognizing the diplomatic status to which Dr Khobragade has always been entitled."
He again denied the charges laid against the diplomat, saying she had "paid her domestic worker what she was entitled to be paid."