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US 'very hopeful' about future of ties with India

Washington, March 18 (IANS) Seeking to distance itself from US prosecutor Preet Bharara securing a re-indictment of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, the US state department says it’s “very hopeful about what the future holds” for India-US relationship.

“Obviously, this is in the hands of the Department of Justice,” spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Monday via teleconference in snowbound Washington when asked about the re-indictment of Khobragade two days after the dismissal of a visa fraud case against her by a New York judge.

“In terms of the future of our relationship, as you know, Assistant Secretary (of State Nisha Desai) Biswal was just in India,” she said. “She had a productive trip while she was there. She had a range of meetings while she was there.”

“Our relationship and all of the issues we work together on are far too important,” Psaki said. “So we’re looking forward, and we’re very hopeful about what the future holds.”

Asked to comment on the upcoming parliamentary elections in India, Psaki said: “I think we’re conveying pretty clearly that we have an important relationship and we work together on economic, strategic, and security issues.”

Biswal’s “trip was evidence of that as well”, she said.

Expressing disappointment over Khobragade’s second indictment India had Saturday described it as an “unnecessary step” and said “India’s government will no longer engage on this case in the US legal system”.

The Dec 12 arrest and strip search of Khobragade, India’s then deputy consul general in New York, had sparked a major diplomatic row between the two countries and led to the postponement of India-US energy dialogue and the first India visit by Biswal.

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