THE US made clear that it expected the Indian government to work with Canada on efforts to investigate the possible involvement of New Delhi agents in the murder of a Canadian citizen in June.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday (18) that Ottawa had credible intelligence linking Indian agents to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, prompting an angry reaction from New Delhi, which denies the allegation.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations that prime minister Trudeau has raised,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken told reporters in a press briefing. “It would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability.”
The White House has spoken of its concerns over the allegations, but Blinken is the most senior US official to have commented thus far.
Traditional Canadian allies, including the US, appeared to take a cautious approach to the matter earlier this week. Political analysts said this was partly because the US and other major players see India as a counterweight to the growing influence of China.
“We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues, not just consulting but coordinating with them on this issue,” Blinken said.
During a press conference Trudeau was asked about the allegations, and he repeated his call for the Indian government to cooperate.
“We are there to work constructively with India. We hope that they engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter,” Trudeau said.
On Friday (22), Trudeau also said Canada shared its concerns with New Delhi some time ago.
“Canada has shared the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday with India. We did that many weeks ago,” Trudeau told reporters.
The Canadian government has amassed both human and signals intelligence in a months-long investigation into the Sikh separatist leader’s murder, CBC News reported separately on Thursday (21) citing sources.
The report said the intelligence included communications of Indian officials present in Canada, adding some of the information was provided by an unidentified ally in the Five Eyes alliance.
Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing network that includes the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
However, Trudeau has not provided any details about what Canada’s spy agencies have collected, and his office has not confirmed or denied the CBC report.
Senior Canadian government sources have said that Trudeau would not have spoken publicly without having a high level of confidence in the intelligence.