The Financial Times reported that US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders expressed concern to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit earlier this month regarding Canadian claims that agents linked to New Delhi were involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist in Vancouver.
Several members of the intelligence-sharing network comprising the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand reportedly broached the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar with Modi.
“According to one source, Biden believed it was crucial to discuss the issue directly with his Indian counterpart. The White House declined to comment on whether Vice President Biden had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Modi at the G20. The leaders intervened at the G20 Summit after Canada urged its allies to raise the matter directly with Modi, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who added that Ottawa asked them to bring up the allegations in private, as reported by the Financial Times.
While there was no official word from New Delhi regarding this allegation, the readouts of Biden and Modi’s meeting did not mention such a conversation.
Modi invited Biden to the Republic Day celebration in 2024 during their encounter, US Ambassador Eric Garcetti announced last Wednesday.
On September 8, the day before the G20 summit began and less than three months after the Indo-US joint statement lauded ties spanning “seas to stars,” Modi and Biden had made progress in a vast array of areas they had identified in June, including space research, cancer research, critical technology, and small modular nuclear reactors.
Their 29-paragraph joint statement had solely addressed bilateral issues. In contrast to the 58-paragraph statement issued last June during PM Modi’s state visit to the United States, this statement made no mention of regional and global issues, counter-terrorism, or the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Myanmar.
The Prime Minister’s Office stated following the meeting, “The two leaders also exchanged perspectives on a number of regional and global issues. They concurred that the India-United States partnership was not only beneficial for the people of the two countries, but also for the global good.” Modi tweeted, “Our meeting was extremely fruitful. We were able to discuss numerous topics that will strengthen economic and interpersonal ties between India and the United States. The affinity between our nations will continue to contribute significantly to the advancement of global welfare.”
In the joint statement, both leaders reiterated that the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunity for all citizens are essential to the success of our countries and strengthen our relationship.
On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his Parliament, “Over the past several weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively investigating credible allegations of a possible link between agents of the Government of India and the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar.”
New Delhi referred to these allegations as “absurd” and “motivated,” and accused Ottawa of failing to act against Khalistan separatists in Canada and withholding specific information on the murder of Nijjar. In addition, it has opened the door to cooperation, stating that if specific information is provided, New Delhi will investigate it.
The New York Times reports that the United States provided intelligence to Canada after the murder of Nijjar, but Ottawa’s intercepted communications were more conclusive and lead it to accuse India of orchestrating the plot.
Ever since the India-Canada diplomatic standoff began, at least five senior US officials and diplomats – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NSA Jake Sullivan, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, Garcetti and US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen – have made public statements with a nuanced message for both sides. In brief, requesting Delhi’s cooperation and urging Ottawa not to act prematurely.
In the past week, the United States has become the mediator between Ottawa and Delhi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will confer with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., where he will explore the possibility of backchannel communications between Delhi and Ottawa.