For stronger immunity, Delhi moves Devyani to UN mission in New York
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The First contours of a resolution of the Devyani Khobragade case emerged Wednesday with New Delhi transferring the IFS officer to India's permanent mission in the United Nations from her present post of deputy consul-general in New York, giving the US an opportunity to grant her full diplomatic immunity.
Hours later, US Secretary of State John Kerry called National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, called Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and expressed regret and remorse over the episode.
Kerry and Sherman, sources said, were both conciliatory and hoped steps would be taken to push the India-US relationship forward. Kerry, they said, wanted to speak to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid but New Delhi preferred this to be dealt at the official level.
If Khobragade's transfer goes through smoothly, sources said, India is considering proposing an agreement to extend full diplomatic immunity to all personnel of the two countries under the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations, regardless of whether they are posted at consulates or the embassy.
Russia is said to have such an agreement with the United States.
Having already asked US diplomatic staff posted in consulates to return their identity cards by December 23, India has taken the first step to ensure there is status parity on both sides.
An agreement, therefore, will be beneficial to both. More importantly, if such an understanding is not reached, India will have to issue a different card for US consular staff.
Explaining the decision to transfer Khobragade, sources said, she would have to apply for a fresh diplomatic card through the UN Secretariat, which would ultimately go to the US State Department for clearance.
This would give Washington the opportunity to show some positive intent by issuing the card and, in doing so, extend full immunity to her. Indications are that the State Department is inclined to approve the card.