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India asks American Center to obtain film licence by Jan 20

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) In another fallout of the India-US stand-off over the handcuffing and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, India has asked the American Center here to obtain a licence by Jan 20 or cease screening films.

In a tersely worded communication sent to the American Center on Friday, the Indian government has given it a deadline of Jan 20 to comply with Indian laws and Delhi government regulations and obtain license for screening films, sources said.

“Failure to comply with the directive would result in the American Center having to cease screening films from Jan 21,” said a source. The step is part of the Indian government’s move to put a “stop to transgressions” of Indian laws.

The Indian move comes days after the external affairs ministry set up a group of experts, including in international law, human resource and finance, to discuss how to proceed against the US authorities in the wake of the Dec 12 handcuffing and strip-search of Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, which caused widespread outrage in India.

Khobragade has been accused of visa fraud and underpaying her child’s nanny – charges she has denied.The US has expressed regret over the circumstances of the arrest and voiced a desire to move forward on the bilateral relationship.

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said Friday: “We are focused on moving this relationship forward, working together on all the issues we work together on all the time.”

On the envoy issue, she added: “The Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice are in charge of the legal aspect.”

“We continue to review and discuss all of the Government of India’s requests for action, and we’re working closely with them on these issues,” the spokesperson said.

India has already withdrawn the airport passes given to US diplomats in India and the special diplomatic identity cards issued to them as part of reciprocal measures after the arrest of Khobragade.

India has demanded the US take back all charges against Khobragade and offer an unconditional apology.

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