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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the COP28 climate summit, in Dubai, UAE, on Dec. 1.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he would “look into” claims New Delhi was linked to two assassination plots against Sikh separatists in Canada and the United States, which have strained ties between the West and India at a time when many see the South Asian country as a potential counterbalance to China.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Wednesday, Mr. Modi said: “If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it.”

“If a citizen of ours has done anything good or bad, we are ready to look into it,” he told the newspaper. “Our commitment is to the rule of law.”

Last month, U.S. authorities said they had foiled a scheme to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a New York-based Sikh activist with ties to Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was fatally shot earlier this year in Surrey, B.C. Ottawa says his killing was directed by agents of the Indian government.

U.S. President Joe Biden reportedly raised the plot to kill Mr. Pannun with Mr. Modi during the G20 conference in New Delhi in September. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke with Mr. Modi at that event about Ottawa’s findings before he made public the accusations that India was involved in Mr. Nijjar’s killing.

Mr. Pannun and Mr. Nijjar, both prominent advocates for an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, were designated terrorists by India, which has long complained that the West does not take Sikh separatism seriously enough.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr. Modi said New Delhi was “deeply concerned about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas.”

“These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence,” he said.

He dismissed concerns this issue could damage ties between India and the U.S., saying there was “strong bipartisan support for the strengthening of this relationship, which is a clear indicator of a mature and stable partnership.”

“Security and counterterrorism co-operation has been a key component of our partnership,” Mr. Modi told the newspaper. “I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

The U.S. provided intelligence to Canada regarding Mr. Nijjar’s killing, and after prosecutors in New York made public the plot against Mr. Pannun, Mr. Trudeau said it “further underscores what we’ve been talking about from the very beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously.”

“We have been working closely with our American counterparts, with partners around the world, on the very serious allegations that we shared in September that we believe India was involved – agents of the government of India were involved – in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” Mr. Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister told CBC on Wednesday that he senses a change in India’s tone with Ottawa after the U.S. warned New Delhi about its involvement in the foiled plot to kill Mr. Punnan on U.S. soil.

“I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they can’t bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before,” Mr. Trudeau said.

New Delhi has denied any involvement in Mr. Nijjar’s killing, and Mr. Trudeau’s allegations caused a deep diplomatic rift between India and Canada. New Delhi stripped 41 Canadian envoys of their diplomatic protections in India, forcing them to leave ahead of a deadline.

Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma told The Globe and Mail last month that India had not been shown concrete evidence by Canada or Canada’s allies that Indian agents were involved in the June 18 slaying of Mr. Nijjar.

With reports from Steven Chase, Robert Fife and Reuters.

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