White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer led a U.S. delegation to New Delhi on Monday where he noted the formation of an investigative panel by India to probe an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on U.S. soil.
“Mr. Finer acknowledged India’s establishment of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate lethal plotting in the United States and the importance of holding accountable anyone found responsible,” the White House said in a statement Monday.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department alleged that an Indian government official directed an unsuccessful plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on U.S. soil, while it announced charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder.
U.S. officials have named the target of the attempted murder as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist and dual citizen of the United States and Canada.
In response, India expressed concern about one of its government officials being linked to the plot, from which it dissociated itself, as being against government policy.
India said last week it would formally investigate the concerns aired by the U.S. and take “necessary follow-up action” on the findings of a panel set up on Nov. 18.
News of the incident came two months after Canada said there were “credible” allegations linking Indian agents to the June murder of another Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in a Vancouver suburb, a contention India has rejected.
U.S. President Joe Biden, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA director Bill Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have discussed this issue with their Indian counterparts in recent weeks.
The issue is highly delicate for both India and the Biden administration as they try to build closer ties in the face of an ascendant China perceived as a threat for both democracies.
The Indian government has long complained about the presence of Sikh separatist groups outside India. New Delhi views them as security threats. The groups have kept alive the movement for Khalistan, or the demand for an independent Sikh state to be carved out of India.
Finer met Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. They also discussed developments in the Middle East, including the Israel-Hamas war, plans for a post-war Gaza and recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the White House said Monday.