White House Urges Accountability in 'Assassination Plot', But Affirms India-US Strategic Partnership

white house urges accountability in 'assassination plot', but affirms india-us strategic partnership

White House Urges Accountability in ‘Assassination Plot’, But Affirms India-US Strategic Partnership

The White House said on Thursday that it has urged New Delhi to hold accountable those responsible for the plot to assassinate a separatist Sikh leader, who is an American citizen. However, it reaffirmed the US commitment to deepen the strategic partnership with India.

“India is a strategic partner. We’re deepening that strategic partnership. They’re a member of the Quad in the Pacific. We participate with them on a range of issues and we want to see that continue unabated. That said, at the same time, we certainly recognise the seriousness of these allegations,” National Security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a White House news conference here.

A US attorney has announced the filing of murder-for-hire charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta, accused of participating in a foiled plot to assassinate an American citizen in New York City. Nikhil Gupta, also known as ‘Nick’, was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition. Though the prosecutors in the US District Court did not name the “target”, US officials have identified him as Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

During Thursday’s press briefing, Kirby was responding to a question on the impact that the alleged plot would have on the bilateral India-US relationship. “We want it fully investigated and those responsible to be held properly accountable,” he said. “It’s under active investigation. We’ve said that we’re glad that our Indian counterparts are taking it seriously and doing that. We want those responsible for these attacks to be held fully accountable, but I won’t get ahead of an investigation that isn’t complete,” Kirby added.

Last week, the United States stressed that the Biden administration was very serious about the issue but welcomed India’s decision to announce a high-level probe into its allegations. In the wake of the current situation, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be visiting New Delhi next week to meet the heads of India’s intelligence agencies.

Sources in the intelligence department told News18 that FBI chief Christopher Wray’s visit to India is to discuss “strategic issues”, and not specifically about Pannun’s case. The Indian side will “definitely” raise the matter of terror activities of various groups if Wray specifically presses for any individual case, the sources pointed out.

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