Snooping row: India summons US diplomat, says it’s simply not on

snowden1The spying row, with connotations of mutual suspicion, looks set to stalk the India-US relations, with New Delhi making it clear to Washington that the reports of the US National Security Agency (NSA) snooping on India’s ruling party, BJP, are “highly objectionable.” The concerns were conveyed to a US senior diplomat posted in New Delhi.

The whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leak of the US National Security Agency’s classified records continue to trouble the US’ diplomatic relations with countries it snooped on. According to new revelations, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among a group of foreign political parties targeted by the NSA in 2010. The BJP was then the largest opposition party; it now heads the ruling coalition. The list also includes Lebanon’s Amal, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan People’s Party.

“We have already communicated to the government of the United States. We have said that we have seen reports in the US media regarding authorisation given to entities of the US government to intrude upon the privacy of communications of the Indian government, its citizens and Indian entities,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in Delhi July 2.

modi-spyWe have also asked the US government if such intrusions have indeed been authorised and have taken place and our view is should this have happened, these are highly objectionable,” he said.

On July 2, India’s foreign office summoned a senior US diplomat and sought assurances from the US that it would not happen again. The spokesperson said the US officials have taken note of India’s objection, but are yet to respond. “They have told us that they are working on the information they would like to share with us. They say they will revert back to us.”

Spying shadows McCain’s India trip

mccain-sushmaThe report of alleged spying could not have come at a worse time for Indian officials as well as for US Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, who is visiting New Delhi. This is the first high-level interaction between the BJP-led NDA Government and the US Congress.

On July 2, McCain met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations. The the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan figured prominently in the discussions. Senator McCain is known to be an ardent  supporter of enhanced relations between New Delhi and Washington.

“If India and the United States are to build a truly strategic partnership, we must each commit to it and defend it in equal measure. We must each build the public support needed to sustain our strategic priorities,” McCain said in a speech  on India on the Senate floor June 26.

The India-US relation came under strain in December 2013 over the US’ treatment of an Indian diplomat, who was arrested in New York in December on visa fraud charges in flagrant disregard of basic norms of diplomatic immunity.

This is not the first time disclosures about the US’ spying on Indian officials, organisation and citizens have surfaced in the public domain. India has previously lodged three formal diplomatic protests against what it regards as commercial and political spying

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