India yesterday blamed the United States for a "mini crisis" over the arrest of an Indian envoy, and said more work was needed to repair ties a day after the withdrawal of diplomats seemed to draw a line under the row.
Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid's remarks came a day after New Delhi gave a US diplomat 48 hours to quit the country over a dispute that has sent tensions between the two countries soaring.
Devyani Khobragade, 39, who was India's deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested in December on charges of visa fraud and lying to US authorities about what she paid her housekeeper.
Her arrest and subsequent strip-search provoked protests in India and dealt a serious blow to US efforts to strengthen ties which Washington sees as a potential bulwark against China's growing might. She was flown back home on Thursday.
In a sign India is not letting matters drop, Khurshid said the government would keep pressing for withdrawal of charges against Devyani. He said the US should have warned senior officials visiting Washington a day before Devyani's arrest.
He described the episode as a "mini crisis" during an interview with the CNN-IBN television network yesterday.
"It's an incident that shouldn't have happened, we have to find some resolution," Khurshid said, adding "immediate concerns have been addressed" but "there is a lot more still to do" to repair relations with Washington.
However, he said the core of the US-Indian relationship was very strong and that he didn't expect lasting damage from what has turned into the biggest rift in years.
Shortly before Devyani's indictment Thursday, the US granted the Indian officer -- who has denied all charges -- full diplomatic immunity, allowing her to fly home to India.
Initially, observers believed Devyani's return signalled tensions had been defused.
But an announcement late Friday that India had ordered a US diplomat to leave in apparent reprisal for its envoy's treatment in New York suggested New Delhi was still angry.
Reports said the US diplomat has left India. Indian newspapers named the diplomat as Wayne May, saying he managed security staff and was of "similar rank" to Devyani.
Meanwhile, The Hindu yesterday reported that the feverish closed-door negotiations between the Indian Embassy in Washington and the US State Department to secure Devyani's right to avoid prosecution broke down by Thursday because India refused to accept a reduced criminal charge that the Department of Justice offered.
The moment it became clear that an “impasse” had been reached the Indian side emphasised on getting her back home.
Meanwhile, US State Department has confirmed that Devyani has lost her diplomatic immunity. Moreover, she will be placed on an “immigration lookout system” if she returns to US and is likely to also have an arrest warrant issued in her name, it added.
On late Friday, the United States said it "deeply regrets" India's expulsion of the US official.
During his television interview, Khurshid said India had not engaged in retaliation against Washington, calling its actions "an appropriate response".
Still, Khurshid told the TV network yesterday evening there was no chance of restoring extra privileges to US diplomats in New Delhi, withdrawn after the Indian diplomat's arrest.