India remains strategic partner, plot-to kill-charge serious: US

New York, December 1 (IANS) The White House said that while it continues to strengthen strategic partnership with India, it takes the allegations that an Indian was involved in a foiled bid to kill a Sikh separatist leader on its soil "very seriously".

The response came closely after New Delhi reacted to the US indictment of an Indian individual in a plot-to-kill charge, and said it is a "matter of concern" and also "contrary to the government policy".

"I would just say two things. India remains a strategic partner and we're going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. At the same time, we take this very seriously," John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, said in response to a question at a news conference.

Welcoming India's efforts to investigate the matter, Kirby also said that the recent developments will not impact the India-US relationship.

"These allegations in this investigation, (we) take it very seriously. And we're glad to see that the Indians are too by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. And we've been clear that we want to see anybody that's responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable," he said, adding that it will not impact India-US relationship.

India constituted a high-level Enquiry Committee to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter, and said it will take necessary follow-up action based on the findings of Committee.

While speaking to reporters travelling with him to Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Indian government's announcement of an investigation "good and appropriate" and said that they "look forward to seeing the results".

The US prosecutors on Wednesday announced murder-for-hire charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta for involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate US citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun allegedly on behalf of an Indian government employee.

New York-based Pannun, who was not named in the indictment, is a designated terrorist in India and the legal counsel of banned Khalistan group, Sikhs For Justice.

Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities on June 30 in response to a request by the US under an extradition treaty, according to a statement issued by the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams.

A resident of India, Gupta is alleged to be involved in international narcotics and weapons trafficking.