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When U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western leaders met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit this month, he expressed concern about Canada’s claims that New Delhi was involved in the murder of Canadian Sikh separatists. Rendra Modi expressed concern.
Three people familiar with discussions at the G20 summit said Hardeep Singh Nijjar was raised with Modi by several members of the Five Eyes alliance, an intelligence-sharing network that includes the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (Hardeep Singh Nijjar) was killed. One person said Biden believed it was important to raise the issue directly with his Indian counterparts.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, “Targeting dissidents from other countries is absolutely unacceptable and we will continue to take steps to resist this approach.”
The two leaders intervened at the G20 summit after Canada urged its allies to raise the case directly with Modi, two people familiar with the matter said, adding that Ottawa asked them to raise the allegation privately.
In a shocking move, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday there were “credible allegations” that Indian government “agents” were behind Nijar’s murder. Nijar was killed in June in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.
This explosive statement was dismissed as “ridiculous” by New Delhi and immediately put Canada’s relations with India into trouble. India on Thursday stopped issuing visas to Canadian citizens and ordered Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country. Earlier on Thursday, Canada’s foreign ministry said it was adjusting staffing levels at its mission in India due to concerns about the safety of diplomats.
The crisis has raised questions about how Canada’s allies are handling the case, especially given the Biden administration’s massive efforts to strengthen ties with India as a counterweight to China. The U.S. president hosted Modi for a high-profile state visit this summer.
U.S. officials have strenuously denied that Washington is keeping silent on the issue to avoid angering India. The White House said it was “deeply concerned” after Trudeau made the remarks. A person familiar with internal government thinking said Washington concluded it would be inappropriate to speak publicly ahead of the announcement because of the legal implications it could have for Canada’s investigation.
U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday dismissed suggestions that Washington’s desire to strengthen ties with New Delhi would limit its ability to express concerns about the allegations. He said the administration takes the accusations “seriously” and will defend U.S. principles regardless of which country is involved. He said the United States was in close consultation with Canada.
“We have been in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts,” Sullivan said, adding that the United States has also been “in constant contact” with the Indian government.
The White House declined to comment on whether Biden raised the issue with Modi at the G20 summit.
Australian Foreign Minister Wong Yin-hyun told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that Canberra had “raised our concerns” with New Delhi, but gave no details.
Citing federal sources, Canada’s public broadcaster on Thursday said intelligence obtained by the Canadian government about Nijar’s killing included communications involving Indian officials and diplomats in Canada.
Trudeau’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.