News / Asia

India Seeks US Assurances Over Spying Reports

FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
FILE - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Reuters

India summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on Wednesday to explain reports that the U.S. National Security Agency was authorized to spy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party before he took office, and to seek assurances this would not happen in the future.

The U.S. State Department said it would not comment “on every specific alleged intelligence activity,” but a spokeswoman said she hoped that relations with the new Indian government, which Washington is keen to develop, would not be harmed.

According to a 2010 classified document leaked by former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden and published this week by the Washington Post, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among a handful of political organizations a U.S. court allowed the intelligence agency to spy on.

The others included Lebanon's Hezbollah-allied group Amal, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and the Pakistan People’s Party, the leaked legal certification approved by U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court showed.

India's foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that if the snooping reports were true, it would be “highly objectionable.” The ministry said it summoned a senior U.S. diplomat to seek assurances that any such surveillance would not occur in future.

“India has sought an explanation of the information contained in the press reports, and an assurance that such authorizations will not be acted upon by U.S. government entities,” it said in a statement.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to give details of what she called a “private” discussion.

“We have a deep and broad partnership with India,” she told a regular news briefing. “We will discuss any concerns we need to discuss though private diplomatic channels.”

Asked if the issue could have an impact on relations, she said: “We certainly hope not. We look forward to continuing discussions on a full range of bilateral and regional issues.”

Obama’s Invitation

Psaki referred to an invitation by President Barack Obama for Modi to visit the United States and added: “We're looking forward to that, hopefully, in the fall.”

Psaki also cited a Jan. 17 speech in which Obama said he was banning eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies and had instructed U.S. intelligence agencies “to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust.”

The latest affair comes at a tricky time for Indo-U.S. relations, which have been delicate for months following a major spat over the treatment of an Indian diplomat who was arrested in New York in December, an incident that was widely blamed for the resignation of the U.S. ambassador to New Delhi.

The Obama administration has been seeking to revive ties since Modi's election in May, seeing India as a key strategic counter-balance in Asia to an increasingly assertive China. It is keen to ramp up bilateral trade and especially defense deals.

Modi was for years denied a visa for travel to the United States following religious riots in 2002 while he was a state chief minister. Even so, he has responded positively to the U.S. advances and shown no resentment publicly.

Modi has not publicly commented on the spying allegation. Party leaders offered cautious remarks that the government would take appropriate action.

The foreign ministry had voiced concerns a year ago about allegations that U.S. agencies spied on the Indian embassy in Washington, but critics say the issue has largely been brushed under the carpet.

The new row has overshadowed a visit to India by Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, whose Arizona constituency is host to some of Boeing and Raytheon's most important defense businesses.

McCain, who told the Senate last week that Washington should seek to help India's economic and military development, canceled a news conference due to be held outside India's foreign ministry after India summoned the U.S. diplomat to explain the spying report.

U.S. and Indian officials gave differing explanations for the cancellation, but said it was not linked to the row.

McCain and India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed improving bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, foreign ministry spokesman Akbaruddin said.

The United States does not currently have an ambassador in New Delhi, and its most senior diplomat is the charge d'affaires.

According to Indian news reports, however, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit India at the end of this month, while Modi is expected to visit the United States in September.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid