On the sidelines of the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Jakarta, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stressed the safety and security of Indian diplomats in Canada amid threats from pro-Khalistan elements along with the country’s foreign minister Melanie Joly.
Jaishankar, who is on an official visit to Jakarta from July 13 to 14 for a meeting of foreign ministers under ASEAN, also met Chinese diplomat Wang Ye and discussed the border issue in the eastern Ladakh sector.
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After his second meeting with Jolly, Jaishankar tweeted, “Discussed the Indo-Pacific region and our economic cooperation. He stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of our diplomats. And the incitement to violence needs to be dealt with firmly.”
A senior Indian official, privy to the details of the meeting, said the talks were both open because security concerns were “very strongly conveyed” and constructive because New Delhi took Ottawa’s concerns seriously and responded well to those concerns.
Officials in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver said the Indian side had “zero complaints” about how Canadian law enforcement responded to threats by pro-Khalistan elements to its senior-most diplomats and missions in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
In Canada, several incidents involving Khalistani separatists have been reported in the past few months in which activists have targeted Indian installations and diplomats.
The latest was a threat issued by pro-Khalistani elements, who put up a poster saying “War Zone” targeting Indian diplomats outside the Bharat Mata Temple in Brampton, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on July 7. Pro-Khalistani groups staged a protest at the Indian consulate in Toronto.
The July 8 “Khalistan Freedom Rally” also saw a confrontation between pro-Khalistan protesters and a group of Indo-Canadian citizens amid a heavy police presence.
The rally was organized for Khalistan Tiger Force chief and banned terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijja, who was murdered on June 18 in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. Banned separatist group, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) did. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) is still investigating the case, accusing the top Indian diplomat and the Indian High Commission of Nijjar’s murder.
Canadian authorities seemed to see the seriousness of the situation, with Melanie Jolie describing posters threatening Indian diplomats as “unacceptable”.
On Saturday, Jolie tweeted, “Meet S Jaishankar to deepen Canada-India cooperation in line with our Indo-Pacific strategy, building on our strong people-to-people ties. I reiterate that Canada takes very seriously its obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Security of Diplomats.”
Jaishankar’s discussions with Wang Ye, who is also director of the Office of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, also covered the EAS/ARF agenda, BRICS and the Indo-Pacific, people familiar with the matter said.
“The meeting with Wang Ye, director of the CPC Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Office, has just ended. Discussed outstanding issues related to peace and tranquility in border areas. Our conversation also covered EAS/ARF agenda, BRICS and Indo-Pacific,” Jaishankar tweeted.
India has been locked in a military standoff with China for more than three years in eastern Ladakh after Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a stand-off in the Galwan Valley in June 2020.
After Friday’s meeting, Wang Yi said the two countries should seek a mutually acceptable solution to the border issue rather than “specific issues” defining overall relations.
During the meeting, Wang said he hoped the Indian side would meet China halfway and find a solution to the border issue acceptable to both sides, an official statement from China’s foreign ministry on Saturday quoted him as saying.
“We should focus our energy and resources on developing each other, improving people’s lives and accelerating revitalization rather than letting specific issues define the overall relationship,” Wang said in the statement.
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Jaishankar, in May this year, had said that relations between the two countries could not be normal until peace and tranquility were maintained along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
(with agency input)