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India, Pakistan Expel Embassy Staff In Latest Spying Row


FILE: A Border Security Force (BSF) soldier stands guard outside the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi.

India says it has decided to expel half the staff in Pakistan's Embassy in New Delhi, saying they have been engaged in "acts of espionage" and maintained contacts with "terrorist organizations."

India will cut staff in its own embassy in Islamabad by the same amount, the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on June 23.

It said the decisions, which are to be implemented in seven days, were conveyed to the Pakistani charge d’affaires in New Delhi.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry later dismissed India's "baseless allegations" and said Pakistani diplomatic staff in New Delhi "always function within the parameters of international law and diplomatic norms."

It said the ministry summoned India's charge d'affaires in Islamabad to inform him of Pakistan's decision to reduce staff at the Indian Embassy by half as a "reciprocal measure."

Relations between the nuclear-armed rivals are strained and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats are common.

Neither country has a permanent ambassador in place.

India expelled two Pakistani diplomats on May 31 after they were held for alleged spying, claims Islamabad said were "baseless."

In the last month, each country has accused the other of the illegal detention and ill-treatment of diplomats.

With reporting by Reuters

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