M A I N   N E W S

Snooping unacceptable, India tells US
* Indo-US strategic talks: Kerry allays fears
* Sushma says no change in policy on Russia
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
India today registered with the USA its strong protest over the snooping of Indian entities and individuals by American intelligence agencies and its disappointment over the proposed changes in the US Immigration Act which could affect Indians in a large number.

"Yes, I raised the issue of snooping with the Secretary of State John Kerry...I have also conveyed to him that this act on the part of the part of the US authorities is completely unacceptable... we are friendly nations," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here.

On his part, Kerry said he could not discuss the issue with the media as it was a practice in the US that intelligence matters were not discussed in public. "We fully respect and understand the feelings expressed by the (Indian) minister. Usually we try to have our intelligence communities’ work to resolve any questions or differences that may exist". He said President Barrack Obama had now ordered a ‘unique and unprecedented’ review of all intelligence gathering activities.

The two leaders were addressing a joint press conference at the end of the day-long 5th India-US strategic dialogue. The Indian side at the dialogue included Minister of State for commerce Nirmala Sitharaman while the US delegation included US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Earlier in the day, Kerry met Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow and discuss the broad agenda of the Indian leader’s visit to Washington in late September.

However, it was clear that the two sides differed sharply on their relations with Russia against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis. While Swaraj stated that there was no change in New Delhi policy vis- a- vis Russia, Kerry said Washington would welcome India join the West in supporting sanctions against Moscow. “But it is up to them (India)...it will not have any bearing on our bilateral ties.”

On the discord between the two countries on WTO negotiations, the Indian minister said consultations on the issue were going on in Geneva and the outcome must be awaited while the US leader said Washington was encouraging India to find a path which was achievable.

Responding to a question in the context of the ongoing hostilities between the Palestinians and Israel, Swaraj said India supported the cause of the Palestinians but at the same time it has good relations with Israel.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the dialogue, the US reiterated its support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UN Security Council, the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Missile technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

The two sides asked Pakistan to work toward bringing the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attack to justice. They 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 the Al Qaida and the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

On the civil nuclear deal between the two countries, the statement said the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to its full implementation.





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