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India Tells USA Snooping on B JP Politicians “Unacceptable”


Kerry Says US values relations with India – but no public discussion on its intelligence agencies

By TN Ashok  Diplomatic Editor

New Delhi, July 31 India today told the US that snooping of BJP politicians by intelligence networks was “unacceptable” especially in the context of the friendly relations between the two countries that prevailed now.

“I raised the issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry during our bilaterals. I drew his attention  to news reports published in this regard. I pointed out to him that India and US were friendly nations”, Indian’s External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj said adding that snooping of BJP politicians as was alleged in newspaper reports was “unacceptable”.

Asked for his reaction at a press conference today, The  seemed to skirt the issue with a vague answer when he said: “Let me assure you that the US President Barrack Obama has been more open and accountable than any other president.”

“Obama has taken extraordinary steps to be open and accountable. We are going to continue to have the best security relationship with India,” Kerry said.

Kerry said the US government had a definitely policy in regard to the functioning of its intelligence agencies. “We don’t discuss intelligence matters in public. We value our relationship with India. We value sharing information on common threats to our countries”, he said seemingly suggesting that the US administration did not interfere in the working of its intelligence agencies.

Answering another question on the controversial Immigration bill seeking to restrict issuance of HiB visas for professionals particularly in the IT sector , Kerry said, the though the bill was before the senate , the possibility of its being taken up for passage seemed doubtful as the US administration was just three into the process of fresh Presidential elections in the country.

The bill is of critical importance for the Obama administration, Kerry said however adding that it was also keen to take the Indo US relations in terms of trade and investment to the next higher level. Education too was an important area for collaboration between India and USA, he pointed out.

Kerry indicated that when the Presidential elections were through in the later part of the year , the new US administration would definitely take up the bill for passage as immigration had become an important domestic policy as well as a foreign policy issue and the bill was critical for USA.

On shared values between the new reforms oriented Modi government and the US business wanting to be a partner in India’s progress, Kerry said , “The new Indian government plans ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ — together we want development for all — is a vision that we want to support.  “We believe this to be a great vision. It was time to adopt Mr Modi’s vision of development.”

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Indian External Affairs Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj were addressing a joint press conference at the foreign office here today soon after the conclusion of the Indo US strategic dialogue meeting that covered trade and investment science and technology, education, issues relating to climate change, and regional cooperation. A joint statement was also issued by them at the end of the meeting ( see separate story on this).

Kerry was accompanied by a high level delegations which included the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, as well as other members of the inter-agency, including Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security and NASA. The trip marked the first US cabinet-level visit to New Delhi since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over office. Noting that India-US ties are yet to “blossom”, Kerry said, “This is a potentially transformative moment in our relationship with India.”

The Indian delegations to the talks was represented by the Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Home Secretary, ISRO Chairman and Science and Technology Secretary , and the foreign secretary Ms Sujata Singh

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