Wednesday, September 27, 2023
State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller dodged questions regarding the United States' policy on Khalistan, maintaining that a "full and fair investigation" should be conducted into the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Miller, when asked about the official stance of the US about the Khalistan referendum organised by the US-based group Sikhs for Justice, said: "Let me take that one back as well."
The spokesperson, during a press conference at the White House, was again asked by the same journalist about India labelling another Khalistani leader and US citizen, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, as a terrorist and a most wanted individual as well as his safety following his concerns about being the Indian government's next target after Nijjar.
"I don’t have any specific comment on that, other than to say, as the Secretary noted in comments he made on Friday, transnational repression would be a concern for us anywhere in the world."
He added that the US has made its aforementioned policy clear on a number of occasions.
Miller later talked about Nijjar's killing, which Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged was a result of Indian involvement, raising questions on the Narendra Modi-led government's tactics to silence dissent on foreign soil.
"We have noted the allegations by Prime Minister Trudeau and we are quite concerned by them, and they are such concerning allegations that we think there ought to be a full and fair investigation," the spokesperson said, responding to a question regarding India's allegation on Canada being a "safe haven of terrorists".
While Canada, he added, has shared its commitment to ensure a thorough probe, the US also believes the "Indian government should cooperate with it."
Another query directed towards Miller asked about the impact of the Nijjar episode on US-India relations.
"We are obviously quite concerned about the situation in Canada. We’ve cooperated closely with our Canadian counterparts, and we have urged India to cooperate in that investigation and we’ll continue to do so," he said.
He maintained that India remains an important partner of the United States.
"We work with them on a number of issues. But of course we — on this matter, we urge them to cooperate with the Canadian investigation," the spokesperson added.