India has summoned a U.S. diplomat and lodged an official complaint over reports that the U.S. National Security Agency snooped on new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political party in 2010.
External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin says the ministry told the diplomat on Wednesday that, if true, such a transgression against the Indian government, its citizens and entities was highly objectionable.
Media reports based on Edward Snowden’s disclosures have alleged that the Obama administration in 2010 sought court authorization to conduct surveillance on the Bharatiya Janata Party and other political outfits. BJP was an opposition party at the time but won India’s most recent elections and began governing in May.
The U.S. embassy in New Delhi declined comment.
The diplomatic feud threatened to overshadow a visit to India by U.S. Senator John McCain on Wednesday.
McCain canceled a news conference due to be held outside India’s foreign ministry after India summoned the senior U.S. diplomat over the spying report. U.S. and Indian officials gave differing explanations for the cancellation, but said it was not linked to the row.
Indo-U.S. relations 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 government has sought to revive ties since Modi’s election in May, with an eye to ramping up bilateral trade and defense deals with India.
Modi was for years denied a visa for travel to the United States following religious riots while he was a state chief minister. He has responded positively to the U.S. advances and shown no resentment publicly.
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