India asks US to stop commercial activities on embassy premises

NEW DELHI - India has asked the United States to stop all commercial activities on its embassy premises in the capital by Jan 16, amid a diplomatic standoff over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

"No commercial activities will be allowed on the US Embassy premises in the Indian capital. The club, which has a bar and a swimming pool inside the mission, has been told to shut down as often outsiders get in, which is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention,'' Xinhua news agency quoted sources as saying.

"The police have also been asked to deal strictly with any traffic violation by embassy vehicles," the sources added.

Tensions between the two countries started after Ms Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, was arrested and strip-searched in December last year on accusations of visa fraud and underpaying her maid. The two charges carry a punishment of up to 15 years in jail.

Ms Khobragade, 39, has denied any wrongdoing and is currently on bail.

India had earlier scaled down the privileges of US diplomats posted in the South Asian country and even removed the security barricades outside the American Embassy.