Kerry vows with Indian foreign minister to restore ties

MONTREUX (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry met Wednesday with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid for the first time since a major row over the arrest in New York of an Indian diplomat.

Meeting on the sidelines of an international peace conference on Syria, the two men "discussed their shared commitment to moving the relationship forward and returning to close partnerships on strategic, security and economic issues," a State Department official said.

Relations between India and the United States, which had steadily warmed since the end of the Cold War, plunged on December 12 when authorities arrested New York consular official Devyani Khobragade over the treatment of her domestic servant.

In a deal between the two countries, Dr Khobragade was allowed to return to India in early January just as a grand jury indicted her on two counts including visa fraud. But she left behind her husband, and two young children who are US citizens.

Dr Khobragade's arrest, and her subsequent strip search, ignited fury in India at her treatment, and led to a series of reprisals against US embassy staff and interests.

Mr Kerry and Mr Khurshid "agreed to work with their teams back at home to schedule the energy dialogue soon and to stay in close touch in the coming months," the State Department official said in a statement, asking not to be named.

India, which sees itself as a growing international player, has taken retaliatory action against the United States including asking for the departure of a US diplomat from New Delhi.

Last week US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz delayed a scheduled trip to India.

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