NEW DELHI (TIP):
Alarmed by the disclosure last month that US authorities spied on BJP when it was not in power, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue with visiting secretary of state John Kerry on July 31 saying this was totally unacceptable to India. India had registered a protest with senior US diplomats after the disclosure which was based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden but officials said Swaraj took up the issue with Kerry to drive home the point that there was anger in the country over alleged snooping by the National Security Agency (NSA). “I told Secretary Kerry that this was completely unacceptable to us as India and US are friendly countries.
Friends don’t snoop on each other,” Swaraj told reporters after the 5th India-US strategic dialogue and what was also the first high-level engagement between the two countries after the Narendra Modi government took over. In his response, Kerry sought to assuage India’s concerns as he said President Barack Obama had undertaken a unique and unprecedented exercise to review all intelligence activities carried out by US agencies. He also said the US valued its relations with India and also the partnership between the two countries in counter-terror operations. “We don’t discuss intelligence matter publicly.
But we value sharing of information regularly on counter-terrorism with India. US President Barack Obama clearly articulated that we fully respect and understand feelings expressed by Indian nationals,” Kerry said. The two leaders discussed all issues cutting across trade, energy, climate change, security and counter-terror operations. On the controversy over India’s stand at WTO over trade facilitation, Kerry expressed hope that a compromise deal would be worked out.
According to documents leaked by Snowden, BJP figured in the list of non-US political parties — along with Lebanon’s Amal which has links with Hezbollah, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistan Peoples Party — which were spied on by the NSA after an official authorization by the US government. In fact, Swaraj’s predecessor Salman Khurshid too had mentioned the issue of snooping on the Indian embassy in the US to Kerry last year but later seemed to defend it saying it was actually not snooping and that such information was used by the US to prevent serious terror strikes.
It was also discovered last year that India was the fifthmost- tracked country by US agencies which used a clandestine “data-mining programe” to monitor worldwide internet data. A joint statement issued later said that faced with a common threat from terrorism, including in South Asia, the two leaders committed to intensify efforts to “combat terrorism, proliferation of WMDs, nuclear terrorism, cross-border crime and address the misuse of the internet for terrorist purposes, in compliance with respective laws.”
On terrorism, the two leaders reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, and disrupting terrorist networks including al-Qaida and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. “The leaders called for Pakistan to work toward bringing the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice,” said the statement. The two leaders welcomed the continuation of the Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group process, sustained exchanges of senior experts, and the upcoming meeting of the Working Group in 2014.
US snooping on BJP unacceptable, SUSHMA TELLS KERRY
NEW DELHI (TIP):