Newcastle [Australia]: Amid the India-Canada diplomatic standoff, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that Canberra doesn’t talk about security briefings as part of the Five Eyes group.
The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and the UK.
On being asked if the Australian government has received a security briefing about the alleged assassination, PM Albanese said, “We don’t talk about security briefings from Five Eyes (intelligence alliance), as part of the Five Eyes group.”
He further said that he has had discussions with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, but would like to keep those discussions ‘confidential’.
“…Well, I do have discussions with Prime Minister Trudeau but one of the things that I do, unlike my predecessor, I don’t send out text messages, I keep those discussions confidential. Justin Trudeau is a friend of mine, he’s a fine Prime Minister of Canada. I was pleased to engage with him at the G20 (Summit),” the Australian PM said.
He added, “He (Trudeau) has expressed his concerns about this on behalf of the Canadian government and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has also expressed concerns.”
Earlier, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also called the allegations raised in the Canadian Parliament about India’s alleged role in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar “concerning”.
Wong also noted that an investigation is underway into the matter, and Australia will continue to monitor the developments.
“These are concerning reports, and I note that investigations are still underway, but obviously these are concerning reports, and as I’ve said, we are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and we’ll continue to do so,” she said in a statement.
On being asked about the safety of the Sikh community in Australia, she said that Australian democracy remains unaffected by external concerns, and that Australians of every persuasion have the right to “peaceful protest”.
“Australians of whatever persuasion have a right to peaceful protest, and in all circumstances we reflect that right in our public statements and in our private conversations with other governments. You would also know we have, as a Parliament, made very clear statements, both legislatively and as a matter of policy about the importance of Australian democracy being unaffected by external concerns,” she said.
She further said that as a foreign minister, she won’t “run a commentary”, but Australia’s principle position is that it believes that the sovereignty of all countries should be respected.
“Well, I’m sure you would not expect the foreign minister of any country to run a commentary on how and what is raised, in detail or what will be raised. But I would say to you, you know, Australia’s principal position is that we believe the sovereignty of all countries should be respected, we believe the rule of law should be respected,” Wong said.
She added, “I would just say to you that we have been monitoring these developments with partners closely, we will continue to do so, and I will confirm that we have raised our concerns with India. I’m not going to go into any further detail on that.”
On Monday, after Candian PM Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar a designated terrorist in India, Canada had expelled an Indian diplomat from the country.
India rejected Canada’s allegation calling them ‘absurd’ and motivated. In a tit-for-tat move on Tuesday, India expelled a Senior Canadian diplomat giving him 5 days to leave the country.
After coming under severe pressure the Canadian Prime Minister then appeared to tone down the rhetoric on Tuesday saying Canada was not looking to provoke India.
“We are not looking to provoke or escalate, we want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear and to ensure there are proper processes,” Trudeau said in a news briefing.
Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was a designated terrorist in India, was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada’s Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.