Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

Sushma may take up NSA snooping with Kerry

John Kerry arrives at the airport in New Delhi on Wednesday.  ( Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri ) John Kerry arrives at the airport in New Delhi on Wednesday. ( Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri )
Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Posted: July 31, 2014 12:05 am | Updated: July 31, 2014 12:10 am

India and the US are likely to make some “tangible progress” on cooperation on “internal security” as well as “cyber security” when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, sources told The Indian Express.

Kerry is scheduled to meet PM Narendra Modi on Friday, when the two sides are likely to move forward on “green energy”. However, no forward movement is expected on the ambitious civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which is stuck because American companies are apprehensive of the Indian liability law.

The enhanced cooperation on cyber security assumes significance in the wake of allegations of the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US snooping on the Indian government and political leaders. With the US not having responded to India’s protests thrice in the past year — twice during the UPA tenure and once during the NDA regime — Swaraj is likely to take up the issue forcefully on Thursday.

South Block raised the issue through diplomatic channels in July 2013, November 2013 and July 2014 after reports of BJP leaders being spied upon by the NSA came to light. However, there has been no satisfactory response from American interlocutors so far, sources said.

While the exact contours of the cooperation are still being discussed between the two sides, there is significant convergence of views — given the terrorist threats faced by both societies. Swaraj and Kerry will also start exploring “transformative ideas and initiatives” as they hold talks and prepare the ground for Modi’s visit to the US in September this year.

Kerry’s visit, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Wednesday, is the first high-level interaction at the political level after the new government took charge.

Kerry, who arrived Wednesday to hold the 5th Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, will also interact with representatives of various ministries, including Home and Defence.

Akbaruddin said the focus area during the Swaraj-Kerry talks would be security, energy, trade and investment, science and technology, human resource development and regional issues.

Asked if India would raise the issue of snooping by the NSA, he said there was “considerable disquiet” in the country over the issue and leaders do reflect the public concerns.

On whether India would raise the issue of movements of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, designated as a terrorist by the US, he said any issue which impinges on India’s security and where the government thinks the US can assist will be raised.

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