India to raise snooping issue during foreign secretary visit

New Delhi, Dec 7 : India has more than once raised with the US its concerns over snooping and the issue is likely to figure during Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's trip to the US from Sunday, said sources.

Singh is to hold foreign office consultations with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and meet a wide array of officials, including acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose E. Gottemoeller, Special Representative for AfPak James Dobbins, besides senior officials in the department of energy, defence and commerce during her four-day visit.

India's concerns over US snooping comes as the National Security Agency, the US ingelligence service, has said its tracking of cellphones overseas is legally authorized under a US presidential order.

According to latest documents provided by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on internet snooping by the US, the NSA gathers as many as five billion cellphone records every day by tapping into cables.

"Our views on snooping were made known at a high level, what the disclosures mean and surveillance of our embassies," said an official source.

The snooping of embassies has also been raised "in a free and frank manner" with the US, another source said.

"We have not got a satisfactory response, and that is why we raised it more than once," the source said.

In late October, China and Southeast Asian governments had demanded an explanation from the US and its allies following reports that American and Australian embassies in the region were being used as hubs for the US' electronic data surveillance.

Afghanistan would figure during Singh's talks with Dobbins, especially the status of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) which would provide for US residual military presence in Afghanistan to continue to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces after the drawdown next year.

With Afghan President Hamid Karzai striking a tough stance over BSA and laying down conditions for agreeing to the deal, the US interlocutors are expected to touch base with India to find out ways to reach out to Karzai, with whom India shares a warm relationship.

--IANS (Posted on 07-12-2013)

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