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Newsline: India summons Canada’s envoy

India summoned Canada’s High Commissioner on Sunday to “convey strong concern” over Sikh protesters in Canada and how they were allowed to breach the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates. According to Canadian media reports, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Saturday over demands for an independent Sikh state, a simmering issue for decades recently triggered again. “It is expected that the Canadian government will take all steps which are required to ensure the safety of our diplomats and security of our diplomatic premises so that they are able to fulfil their normal diplomatic functions,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/india/india-summons-canada-high-commissioner-concerned-over-sikh-protesters-2023-03-26/) The statement follows Indian police on March 21 launching a hunt for Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh, who has revived talk of an independent Sikh homeland and stoked fears of a return to violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 1980s and early 1990s. Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India.

Newsline: Indian police open probe into London embassy protest

Indian police have opened an investigation into a protest this week outside its High Commission in London, Reuters partner ANI reported on Friday, pursuing action on an incident that has raised tension in relations with Britain. Indian police opened an investigation, the ANI news agency reported. “Case registered after the Ministry of Home Affairs asked Delhi Police to take appropriate legal action,” ANI said, citing the police department of the Indian capital that reports to the federal government. Police officials and the British embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to calls and messages seeking comment. (https://neuters.de/world/indian-police-open-investigation-into-london-embassy-protest-media-2023-03-24/) Protesters with “Khalistan” banners took an Indian flag down from a first-floor balcony of the High Commission in the British capital on Sunday to denounce recent police action in India’s Punjab state, British and Indian media reported. Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh homeland that some members of that community aspire to, both at home in India and in countries where Sikhs have settled. India summoned the top British diplomat in New Delhi on Sunday to convey its “strong protest at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements” at the mission, and to seek an explanation for “the complete absence” of security there. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said acts of violence towards staff at the High Commission in London were unacceptable and British police were investigating.

Newsline: India summons British envoy

A senior British diplomat in Delhi has been summoned after a protest at the Indian High Commission in London. Crowds gathered outside the building in Aldwych, Westminster, on Sunday and windows were broken. The Indian foreign ministry issued a statement saying the senior diplomat had been asked to explain “the complete absence of British security”. (https://news.yahoo.com/indian-high-commission-diplomat-summoned-071718925.html) After the protest a man was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and a police investigation was launched. The Metropolitan Police said two security guards were injured. Videos on social media showed a crowd waving yellow “Khalistan” banners and a man detach the Indian flag from the first-floor balcony of the building. Khalistan is the proposed name of a Sikh state separatist groups wants to create in the Punjab region, which spans both India and Pakistan.

Newsline: India, Australia eye top level diplomacy

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in India on Wednesday seeking to strengthen the new momentum in ties between the two countries through deeper trade, investment and defence relations. The three-day visit by Albanese, the first by an Australian prime minister since 2017, comes days ahead of a visit by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, another member of the so-called Quad grouping that seeks to counter China’s growing domination in the Indo-Pacific region. Quad includes the United States and India besides Australia and Japan. Australia is due to host a Quad leaders summit in Sydney later this year. “​India and Australia share warm and friendly relations based on common values and democratic principles. The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit. Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday, Albanese said Australia wanted “greater diversity in who we trade with – and greater variety in what we trade, meaning our economy is more resilient and more secure”. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/india-australia-aim-boost-economic-defence-ties-first-summit-pms-2023-03-08/) The two countries signed last year a free trade agreement called the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the first signed by India with a developed country in a decade.

Newsline: Russia and US top diplomats meet in India

Russia and the United States’ top diplomats spoke to each other face-to-face on Thursday for the first time since the start of Ukraine war on the sidelines of a G20 meeting where ministers traded blame over the conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to end the war and urged Moscow to reverse its suspension of the New START nuclear treaty, a senior U.S. official said. The Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov and Blinken spoke “on the move” for less than 10 minutes at the end of the closed-door session, and did not engage in any negotiations, Russian news agencies reported. Blinken later told a news conference he had told Lavrov to engage in diplomacy during the unscheduled encounter. “I told the foreign minister that no matter what else is happening in the world or in our relationship, the United States will always be ready to engage and act on strategic arms control, just as the United States and the Soviet Union did even at the height of the Cold War,” Blinken added. (https://neuters.de/world/india-pm-modi-calls-common-ground-global-issues-g20-meeting-2023-03-02/) Earlier in the meeting of foreign ministers, the United States and European allies urged the Group of 20 (G20) nations to keep up pressure on Moscow to end the conflict, now in its second year.

Newsline: US top diplomat says G20 meeting in India affected by Russia-Ukraine war

The Group of 20 (G20) meeting of foreign ministers has again been marred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. The war has been a major sticking point at meetings of the G20, which groups the world’s largest economies and includes both the United States and Russia. “Unfortunately, this meeting has again been marred by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine, deliberate campaign of destruction against civilian targets, and its attack on the core principles of the UN Charter,” the top U.S. diplomat told the bloc’s foreign ministers, according to prepared remarks shared with reporters after Blinken delivered them on Thursday morning. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-says-g20-meeting-india-marred-by-russia-ukraine-war-2023-03-02/) This year’s host India has declined to blame Russia for the war, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil. The G20 should repeat calls – agreed upon by most G20 nations’ leaders in Bali in November – for Russia to end the war and withdraw for the sake of international peace and economic stability, Blinken said.

Newsline: India reluctant to discuss new G20 sanctions on Russia

India does not want the Group of 20 nations to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine during New Delhi’s one-year presidency of the bloc, six senior Indian government officials told Reuters. On the sidelines of a key G20 gathering in India, financial leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations will meet on Feb. 23, the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion, to discuss measures against Russia, Japan’s finance minister said on Tuesday. The officials, who are directly involved in this week’s G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs, said the war’s macroeconomic impact would be discussed but India does not want to deliberate on additional actions against Russia. “India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G20,” said one of the officials. “The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world.” Another official said sanctions were not a G20 issue. “G20 is an economic forum for discussing growth issues.” (https://neuters.de/world/host-india-does-not-want-g20-discuss-more-sanctions-russia-sources-2023-02-22/) Spokespeople for the Indian government and the finance and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has previously said the war has disproportionately affected poorer countries by raising prices of fuel and food. India’s neighbours – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – have all sought loans from the International Monetary Fund in recent months to tide over economic troubles brought about by the pandemic and the war.

Newsline: India invites Pakistan’s top diplomat to meet in May

India has invited Pakistan’s foreign minister to a meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) that it is hosting in May, Indian media reported on Wednesday. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/india-invites-pakistans-foreign-minister-may-meeting-media-reports-2023-01-25/) The invitation came days after Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called for talks with India over all outstanding issues, including the disputed Kashmir region. Just a month ago, there were street protests in India over comments Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of United Nations Security Council meeting. India called Zardari’s comments “uncivilised”. Foreign ministry spokespersons for the two countries did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on the media reports that Zardari had been invited to the SCO foreign ministers meeting being hosted in Goa. The SCO comprises China, India, Russia, Pakistan and four Central Asian states.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy To Expedite Visa Processing For Indians

The U.S. diplomatic missions in India have launched a set of measures to reduce wait times for U.S-bound Indian visa applicants and expedite visa processing across the country. The U.S. embassy and its consulates have launched the first in a series of special interview days. The United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad have opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews. In the coming months, the Mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays, the Embassy said in a press release. (https://www.rttnews.com/3338909/u-s-embassy-to-expedite-visa-processing-for-indians-to-clear-backlog.aspx) The State Department has also implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous U.S. visas. Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase processing capacity.

Newsline: India’s top diplomat says Russia-Ukraine conflict matter of “deep concern”

Emphasizing that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a matter of “deep concern,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday that India is on the side of peace and therefore has been urging both the countries to return to dialogue and diplomacy. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/russia-ukraine-conflict-matter-of-deep-concern-says-jaishankar/ar-AA15SkUt) Voicing concern on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar in an interaction with the Indian diaspora said, “For us, this conflict is really a matter of very very deep concern. It is a deep concern because as PM Modi declared in September we actually believe that this is no longer an era of war where you cannot settle differences and issues through violence and conflict.”