Sikh separatist murder: US expects India to cooperate with Canada in this case

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA, Sept 22 (Reuters) – The United States made clear on Friday it expects the Indian government to cooperate with Canada in efforts to investigate the involvement of New Delhi agents in the June killing of a Canadian citizen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Ottawa has credible intelligence linking Indian agents to the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

“We are deeply concerned about the allegations made by Prime Minister Trudeau,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters. “It will be important for India to work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability.”

The White House has spoken about its concerns about the allegations, but Blinken is the most senior US official to comment so far.

Traditional Canadian allies, including the United States, appeared to take a cautious approach to the matter earlier this week. Political analysts said this is because the US and other major countries see India as a counterweight to China’s growing influence.

“We have been consulting very closely with our Canadian counterparts, not only consulting but coordinating with them on this issue,” Blinken said.

Trudeau was asked about the allegations during a press conference, and he repeatedly called for the Indian government to cooperate.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a statement at the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on September 18, 2023. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo Obtain licensing rights

“We are going to work constructively with India. We hope they will engage with us so that we can get this very serious thing going,” Trudeau said.

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On Friday, Trudeau also said Canada had shared its concerns with New Delhi some time ago.

“Canada shared with India the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday. We did that several weeks ago,” Trudeau told reporters.

The Canadian government has gathered both human and signals intelligence in its months-long investigation into the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, CBC News reported separately Thursday, citing sources.

The report said the intelligence included communications from Indian officials in Canada and some information was provided by an unidentified ally of the Five Eyes alliance.

The Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing network involving the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

However, Trudeau did not provide any details about what Canada’s intelligence agencies collected, and his office did not confirm or deny the CBC report.

Senior Canadian government sources said Trudeau would not have spoken publicly without much confidence in the intelligence community.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Additional reporting by David Lungren in Ottawa; Editing by Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Kanishka Singh is a key news correspondent for Reuters in Washington, DC, primarily covering US politics and national affairs in her current role. His past breaking news coverage spans topics as diverse as the Black Lives Matter movement; US elections; 2021 Capitol riots and their follow-up investigations; Brexit deal; US-China trade tensions; NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; the covid-19 pandemic; And a 2019 Supreme Court ruling on a religious dispute site in his native India.

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