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
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
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.