Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s important for Canada to have diplomats on the ground in India for what he calls “extremely challenging” circumstances.
Trudeau was responding this morning to media reports that India wants as many as 41 of 62 remaining Canadian envoys out of the country.
He refused to confirm the reports, saying only that Ottawa wants responsible and constructive discussions and has no interest in escalating the dispute.
It’s the latest fallout from Trudeau’s explosive allegations of Indian government involvement in the June shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh leader India had long accused of links to terrorism, was killed outside a temple in Surrey, B.C.
Officials have since confirmed that Trudeau’s allegations were based in part on intelligence gathered by a key ally.
“Obviously, we’re going through an extremely challenging time with India right now,” Trudeau said today on Parliament Hill.
“We’re taking this extremely seriously, but we’re going to continue to engage responsibly and constructively with the government of India.”
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, confirmed last week that the subject came up in his meetings in Washington, D.C., with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Trudeau’s allegation “was not consistent with our policy,” Jaishankar told a panel discussion Friday hosted by the Hudson Institute.
“If his government had anything relevant and specific they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it. That’s where that conversation is at this point of time.”
— With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa
The Canadian Press