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India dismisses Canada’s allegation that it violated international norms in their diplomatic spat

The Indian government has rejected claims that it violated international law by asking Canada to recall two-thirds of its diplomats stationed in India amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Canada recalled 41 of its 62 diplomats in India after what it perceived as a warning from Delhi indicating the possible stripping of immunity for its diplomats.

Canada said the move was “unreasonable and escalatory” and a breach of the Geneva Convention.

However, India has pushed back, saying that it simply sought parity in the number of diplomats between the two countries, without setting a specific deadline or publicly indicating the withdrawal of diplomatic immunity.

"We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” India’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

The statement emphasised India's desire for mutual diplomatic presence to be equal in New Delhi and Ottawa. India also accused these Canadian diplomats of interfering in India’s internal affairs.

“Their continued interference in our internal affairs warrants a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” the statement said.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said this move will delay visa services in India and make life “unbelievably difficult” for millions of people.

“The Indian government is making it unbelievably difficult for life as usual to continue for millions of people in India and in Canada. And they’re doing it by contravening a very basic principle of diplomacy,” Mr Trudeau said.

“It’s something that has me very concerned for the well-being and happiness of millions of Canadians who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent,” he said adding that the expulsion of some of the diplomats from Canada will pose difficulties for Indians studying in Canada.

The move is part of an ongoing diplomatic row between India and Canada after Mr Trudeau accused India of being involved in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

India, in turn, accused Canada of harbouring separatists and labelled the allegations of its involvement in the killing as “absurd”. India took diplomatic measures to express its displeasure over the accusation.

The escalating tensions between the two countries have also invited statements from the US which has so far remained neutral.

The United States government voiced its concern over the situation, urging India to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation.

“We are concerned by the departure of Canadian diplomats from India, in response to the Indian government’s demand of Canada to significantly reduce its diplomatic presence in India,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

“Resolving differences requires diplomats on the ground,” he stated. The statement also called on India to adhere to international rules related to diplomats.

Washington has said it took Canada’s allegations seriously and, along with London, urged India to cooperate with Canada in the murder probe even as Western powers have been reluctant to openly condemn India.

Additional reporting by agencies