India to US: Snooping unacceptable

Kerry SushmaIn the first high-level formal diplomatic engagement between India and the US since the formation of a new government in Delhi, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has conveyed concerns over the surveillance by the US’ National Security Agency on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s ruling party which was spied on when it was in opposition in 2010, and made it clear that it is “unacceptable.”

“I raised the issue. There was a lot of anger among the people. We consider ourselves friendly countries. A friendly nation can’t spy on another friendly nation,” said Swaraj at a joint media interaction with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi July 31.

“That is unacceptable to us,” she said.

Mrs Swaraj and Mr Kerry held the fifth round of strategic dialogue in New Delhi July 31 and discussed a wide gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues to galvanise the relationship between the world’s largest democracies.

Responding to Swaraj’s expression of outrage over snooping charges, Mr Kerry put on a brave face, saying that the US respected India’s feelings.

“President Obama has undertaking unprecedented review of our intelligence, the approach going forward, and the standard we apply. We fully understand and respect the feeling expressed by the minister,” he said.

Mr Kerry, however, struck an upbeat note on the future of the India-US relations, saying the two nations are “indispensable partners in the 21st century,” and said the US was looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to Washington in September.