Devyani Khobragade case was mishandled by India and US, say ex-diplomats

Devyani KhobragadeThe relationship between the two countries is too important to be derailed by this arrest, a former diplomat said. (AP)

The diplomatic row between US and India over the arrest of an Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was mishandled by both countries and it is high time to move forward and find a diplomatic resolution, two former American diplomats have said.

"This storm has blown us temporarily off course," former diplomat Frank Wisner told PTI in an interview. He added that Americans treated the case inappropriately, while India reaction was emotional.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid Sangeeta Richard. She was released on a USD 250,000 bond.

The 39-year-old diplomat was strip searched and held with criminals, triggering a row between the two sides with India retaliating by downgrading privileges of certain category of US diplomats among other steps last month.

"The position that we have got into is deeply regrettable and I hope that the two sides could come to an early solution.

It can only be done quietly in discussions with qualified diplomats," Wisner said.

Wisner said the relationship between the two countries is too important to be derailed by this arrest.

A retired US diplomat and a well know South Asian expert, Teresita C Schaffer also blamed both India and the US for the current impasse.

"The charges involved a serious offense and one that had arisen in the past as well. The treatment of Ms Khobragade was unnecessarily provocative and offencive. India's response was dangerous," Schaffer told PTI.

"The United States has always drawn a distinction between diplomatic and consular immunity (as indeed the Vienna Conventions do). The US considered this a serious offence, and there were at least two recent cases where Indian consular officials were charged with the same offence," she said.

"Other options might have included a formal legal complaint involving payment of fines and/or back wages, asking for her withdrawal, or, in an arrest did occur modifying the search protocols," Scaffer said.

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