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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Snooping unacceptable, India bluntly tells United States

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday bluntly told the US that surveillance of political leaders and others in India by the American intelligence was unacceptable to which the US responded by saying that any differences that may exist can be resolved by intelligence communities of the two countries.

This emerged after marathon talks between visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry, the highest-ranking dignitary to visit India since the installation of the Modi government, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here. The two sides had wide-range of key issues like trade, defence and energy.

At a joint press conference on Thursday night, Swaraj was asked if she had raised the issue of surveillance of BJP leaders in 2010 by the US National Security Agency (NSA), as was made public recently on the basis of revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Swaraj replied, “I raised this issue with Secretary Kerry. I told them that when this news appeared in Indian papers, Indians were agitated and they had expressed their anger too. Main ussi rosh se apko awgat karana chahati hoon (I want to make you aware of that anger).

“I even told him that both countries consider each other as friendly nations and it will not be acceptable to us from any angle if one friendly country spies on another friendly country. This is unacceptable to us.”

However, Kerry defended the US snooping saying, “We value our relationship with India, our bilateral relationship... we also value sharing of information between each other regarding counter-terrorism and other threats to both of our countries.. Usually, we try to have our intelligence communities work to resolve any questions or differences that may exist.

“We will continue to work actively with India wherever we see a threat to our shared interest and we fully respect and understand the feelings expressed by the minister.”

Kerry also maintained that US has a policy that it does not discuss intelligence matters in public. However, he added that America had conversations as the Minister has stated with government officials about surveillance reports.

Swaraj also raised the issue of US immigration bill pending before the Senate which may limit the mobility of Indian IT professionals to the US. The minister said she has conveyed to Kerry that if passed it will send a 'negative signal' to professionals here when India is opening up and added that her ministerial colleague Nirmala Sitharaman has also raised the issue.