NEW DELHI — India on Friday ousted a U.S. diplomat from the embassy here, hours after the departure from the United States of an Indian consular officer who was asked to leave after she was indicted in New York on charges of visa fraud.
The State Department confirmed that the unidentified American diplomat had left New Delhi "at the request of the government of India" and voiced a mix of disappointment at the apparent tit-for-tat move and cautious optimism that it could settle the bitter monthlong dispute.
"We deeply regret that the Indian government felt it was necessary to expel one of our diplomatic personnel," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "This has clearly been a challenging time in the U.S.-India relationship. We expect and hope that this will now come to closure, and the Indians will take significant steps with us to improve our relationship."
The Indian consular officer, Devyani Khobragade, 39, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on Thursday on charges of visa fraud and making false statements regarding the employment of a domestic worker. She is accused of trying to circumvent U.S. wage requirements by submitting to visa authorities a falsified contract for her nanny, Sangeeta Richard, whom she brought from India to work in her home.
Indian officials said that Khobragade — who had been working as India's deputy consul general in New York — would arrive in India today.
Neither government would publicly identify the expelled U.S. diplomat.