US hopes NSA surveillance not impact bilateral ties

US hopes NSA surveillance not impact bilateral tiesWASHINGTON: The US has expressed hope that its National Security Agency’s surveillance on the BJP would not have an adverse impact on its bilateral ties with India.

“We certainly hope not,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday when asked about the strong protest lodged by India against the spying of BJP by the NSA.

BJP figured in the list of foreign political parties along with Lebanon’s Amal, the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator of Venezuela, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian National Salvation Front and the Pakistan Peoples Party for whom the NSA had sought permission to carry out surveillance, according to documents made public by the Washington Post.

“We look forward to continuing discussion on a full range of bilateral and regional issues. There has been an invitation issued for a visit, and we are looking forward to that, hopefully in the fall,” she said in reference to the possible September visit to the US by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Psaki said American diplomats met Indian officials in this regard.

“I can confirm that diplomats from our embassy have met with their MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) counterparts on this issue, but I am not going to get into the substance of our private conversations,” she said.

Without directly mentioning India, she said the US is talking with the Indian Government to increase confidence between the two countries on this issue.

“As you know, since January 17, the (US) President has made clear that he is instructed his national security team as well as the intelligence community to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust moving forward,” Psaki said.

She refrained from confirming if the BJP has been taken off the list of global political organizations that is being spied upon by the NSA or the US has assured to the Indian government that it would not be done in the future.

“I am just not going to have any more details I can lay out for you, other than to convey that we have a deep and broad partnership with India. We will discuss any concerns that we need to discuss through our private diplomatic channels,” Psaki said.

“And obviously, that is already ongoing, including as it relates to these specific reports,” she added.–PTI