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UK's Sunak calls Canadian PM for de-escalation in Ottawa-Delhi row

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) looks on as Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference at the G20 summit on November 16, 2022 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. (Photo by Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has talked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the recent row between Ottawa and Delhi over the death of a Sikh separatist.  

In a late-night phone call on Friday, the two leaders discussed the Ottawa-Delhi row during which Trudeau updated Sunak on the situation relating to Canadian diplomats in India.

The two leaders, in separate statements, had emphasized adhering to the rule of law while de-escalating the tense situation.

The British leader emphasized the importance of respecting sovereignty and the rule of law, as well as the need for de-escalation, according to the statement released by No. 10 Downing Street.

“Prime Minister [Sunak] reaffirmed the UK’s position that all countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law, including the principles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," the UK Prime Minister’s office said.

It added that the British leader told his Canadian counterpart, "He hoped to see a de-escalation in the situation,” and agreed to remain in contact with him until the Ottawa-Delhi row has been resolved.

“The leaders emphasized respect for the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the need to ensure the safety and security of their citizens. They underscored the importance of de-escalation in this context. Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Sunak agreed to remain in close contact and to continue working together to tackle global issues," read the Canadian government’s statement.

The ongoing diplomatic row between India and Canada -- both close London allies and members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a large group of former territories of the British Empire -- over the June killing of Canadian-Indian Hardeep Nijjar in Vancouver prompted Sunak to call Trudeau on Friday to stress the need for the de-escalation of tensions.

Also on Friday, the US ambassador to India had reportedly told his team that Washington may “need to reduce contact” with New Delhi's officials if the Ottawa-Delhi row were to continue.

The Ottawa-Delhi row has been going on for months, and Trudeau last month gave a statement in the Canadian Parliament alleging India's involvement in Nijjar's assassination. In the statement, the PM said that Canadian security forces were "actively pursuing credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to the murder of the Khalistan Tiger Force leader in British Columbia in June.

The accusation, however, was strongly rejected by India as “absurd and motivated".

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