Obama and Kerry likely to discuss the Devyani Khobragade issue at the White House

Meeting may be critical in how the US Govt. goes about the case.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: President Barack Obama is likely be briefed on the Devyani Khobragade issue by Secretary of State John Kerry when the duo meet each other at the White House later today; their first meeting after the holiday vacations.

Kerry and the President are scheduled to meet later today, at 4:20 PM. Though Kerry has expressed regret on the way Khobragade was arrested, Obama has yet to comment on the subject, which has roiled Indo-US ties. It’s not known whether Kerry has briefed Obama on the issue yet, but with tensions coming to a boiling point between the two countries, it’s a good time for the President to take direct action on the issue.

The meeting between Kerry and Obama is set to take place after the swearing in of Gregg Starr, the soon-to-be assistant secretary for diplomatic security. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is a sub-division of the State Department, and is “a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and protection of people, property, and information.”

They are, essentially, the “security and law enforcement arm” of the State Department. Specifically, part of the bureau’s job description says “In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigates passport and visa fraud, and conducts personnel security investigations. They are also the one who signed the arrest warrant for Khobragade, which put the US Marshals in action, and they arrested Khobragade in Manhattan on December 12th.

Undoubtedly, Obama’s opinion on the issue will go a long way towards indicating how the rest of this plays out. If Obama is receptive to India’s demands to dismiss all charges against Khobragade, the matter could see a surprisingly swift and relatively peaceful conclusion. If Obama decides to stand with the State Department and Preet Bharara, India will likely retaliate with further sanctions on US diplomats in New Delhi, and could possibly take additional measures.

The case’s first court date, on which an official indictment of Khobragade is likely to be issued or postponed, is scheduled for Monday, January 13.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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