India raps ‘unacceptable’ American surveillance

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Thursday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: India’s foreign minister told her visiting counterpart John Kerry on Thursday that US surveillance of an ally was “unacceptable” following allegations that Washington’s National Security Agency targeted the ruling party.

“I raised this issue and even told them that when the news came out in the Indian media, people were angry,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a joint press conference with Kerry.

“I also told them that if we consider each other friendly countries, it is unacceptable that a friendly country spies on other friendly nations.”

A classified document made public by the Washington Post earlier this month showed that India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among authorized targets for the NSA in 2010 while it was in opposition.

In response, Kerry told reporters: “We have a policy in the United States with respect to intelligence matters, we do not discuss intelligence matters.”

Also on Thursday, Kerry voiced optimism about working with the new Indian government.

The United States and India have described each other as natural allies with common concerns about a rising China and militancy, but the world’s largest democracies have weathered an unusually large number of disputes in the past year.

Kerry, who met senior Indian leaders in New Delhi, said that he wanted to “see things move in a very positive way” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in May elections.

“We want a new relationship. We want to see things move in a very positive way,” Kerry told India’s NDTV television.

“We are excited about Prime Minister Modi’s direction and wanting to provide jobs,” Kerry said.

“The things he wants to do for electricity, for the people. We think there’s a lot that the United States and India can work on together,” he said shortly after meeting Finance and Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, a key player in the new government.

Kerry will on Friday meet Modi, a Hindu nationalist who was shunned by Washington until his election campaign over allegations of complicity in anti-Muslim riots as leader of Gujarat state in 2002.

In a dramatic turnaround since his election, Western powers have raced to court Modi who will visit Washington in September to meet President Barack Obama.

“We will welcome Prime Minister Modi. Of course he will get a visa, no questions whatsoever and we look forward to a terrific meeting with President Obama,” said Kerry.

 
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