Thursday November 30, 2023

State Dept dodges question over US stance on Khalistan referendum

"I don’t have any specific comment on that," State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller tells journalist

By Web Desk
September 27, 2023
State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller. — AFP/File
State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller. — AFP/File

State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller evaded question concerning the United States' position on Khalistan referendum while emphasising the necessity for a "full and fair" probe into the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

When questioned about the US stance on the Khalistan referendum organised by Sikhs for Justice, Miller responded with caution, stating, "Let me take that one back as well."

The same journalist during a press conference at the White House, sought clarification regarding India labelling another Khalistani leader and US citizen, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, as a terrorist and most-wanted individual amid concern about his safety with fears of becoming the next target of the Indian government, following Nijjar's killing.

"I don’t have any specific comment on that, other than to say, as the Secretary noted in comments he made on Friday, transnational repression would be a concern for us anywhere in the world," Millar said, adding that the US has made its aforementioned policy clear on a number of occasions.

Responding to a query, he talked about Nijjar's killing, which Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged was a result of Indian involvement, raising questions on the Narendra Modi-led government's tactics to silence dissent on foreign soil.

"We have noted the allegations by Prime Minister Trudeau and we are quite concerned by them, and they are such concerning allegations that we think there ought to be a full and fair investigation," the spokesperson said, responding to a question regarding India's allegation on Canada being a "safe haven of terrorists".

While Canada, he added, has shared its commitment to ensure a thorough probe, the US also believes the "Indian government should cooperate with it."

Another query directed towards Miller asked about the impact of the Nijjar episode on US-India relations.

"We are obviously quite concerned about the situation in Canada. We’ve cooperated closely with our Canadian counterparts, and we have urged India to cooperate in that investigation and we’ll continue to do so," he said.

He maintained that India remains an important partner of the United States.

"We work with them on a number of issues. But of course we — on this matter, we urge them to cooperate with the Canadian investigation," the spokesperson added.