Secretary of State John Kerry Expresses Regret to Indian Official Amid Diplomatic Row

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Indian National Security Adviser to “express his regret” over the detention of an Indian diplomat in New York City, which has strained relations between the two countries, a State Department spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The Indian official, Shivshankar Menon, had called the treatment of India’s deputy consul general in New York City, Devyani Khobragade, “despicable” and “barbaric” after she was publicly handcuffed and strip-searched on Dec. 12. Khobragade, later released on bail, was accused of paying her housekeeper less than minimum wage and submitting false documents on an application for the housekeeper to live and work in the U.S.

The incident provoked a backlash in India, where Khobragade was seen as the victim of U.S. mistreatment. U.S. diplomats were stripped of ID cards that make clearances easier, and bulldozers removed security barricades outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

“In his conversation with National Security Adviser Menon he expressed his regret, as well as his concern, that we not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India,” spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

The U.S. had earlier pledged to review procedures followed in the arrest, invoking a “spirit of partnership and cooperation.”