Sunak underscores need to de-escalate India–Canada row

The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office from Ottawa echoed the statement, as Trudeau gave Downing Street an update on the current situation

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (photo: DW)
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (photo: DW)


British prime minister Rishi Sunak and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau have both underscored the importance of de-escalation of the India–Canada diplomatic row.

The two leaders discussed respect for the rule of law in a call that was dominated by talk of the standoff between India and Canada over the killing of Sikh separatist leader Nijjar Singh in Canada in June 2023.

According to a Downing Street statement, the Indian-origin British leader Sunak spoke to Trudeau on 6 October. 'Prime Minister Trudeau updated on the situation relating to Canadian diplomats in India,' reads the Downing Street statement.

Both leaders agreed to stay in contact. This conversation comes in the wake of Canada‘s allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of a pro-Khalistan wanted terrorist.

'The Prime Minister [Sunak] reaffirmed the UK’s position that all countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law, including the principles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. He hoped to see a de-escalation in the situation and agreed to remain in contact with Prime Minister Trudeau on the next steps,' the statement said.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office from Ottawa echoed the statement, saying that Trudeau provided an update on the current situation between Canada and India.

'The leaders emphasised respect for the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the need to ensure the safety and security of their citizens. They underscored the importance of de-escalation in this context. Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Sunak agreed to remain in close contact and to continue working together to tackle global issues,' the Canadian government statement reads.

Trudeau’s statement in the Canadian Parliament last month, which triggered the Indo-Canada tensions, said that Canada's security forces were "actively pursuing credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June, an allegation strongly rejected by India as “absurd and motivated”.

The telephonic talks between Sunak and Trudeau took place in the days after the fallout of that diplomatic row resonated in the UK, as Indian high commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami was blocked from a planned visit to Glasgow Gurdwara in Scotland last week by pro-Khalistan extremists.

“Concerned to see that the Indian high commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, was stopped from meeting with the Gurudwara Committee at the gurudwara in Glasgow. The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all,” Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK Foreign Office minister for the Indo-Pacific wrote on X.

In recent developments, the Indian ministry of external affairs (MEA) said it has been coordinating with its mission in Ottawa and consulates in other Canadian cities over safety concerns.

“We have been taking up concerns of security of our diplomats and premises from people there who are wanted by our security and our judicial systems, and we will continue to do that as that is a continued conversation. The issue is about security, and our diplomats are safe and the community is not targeted,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in New Delhi.

India has also asserted that Canada must reduce its diplomatic presence in the country to achieve parity in strength and alleged that some of the Canadian diplomats are interfering in New Delhi's internal matters.

Bagchi said discussions are on regarding the modalities to arrive at a mutual acceptable diplomatic presence and gave a clear indication that India will not review its position on this issue.

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