New Delhi: There was broad convergence of views and interests between the US and India when John Kerry, accompanied by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and other senior American officials, visited India last week, despite India's decision not to ratify the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
The new Indian government, led by Modi, made a U-turn, vetoing the trade deal over disagreements on New Delhi's food subsidies. The failure to reach an accord overshadowed Kerry's three-day hop-over to New Delhi for an annual Strategic Dialogue meeting between the two countries.
The fifth edition of the India-US Strategic Dialogue was overall not a cheerful occasion for US Secretary of State John Kerry, the highest-ranking leader to visit India since Narendra Modi came to power.
Kerry wanted the dialogue to be the right springboard for Modi's trip to Washington in September but returned dissatisfied over India's strong reservations against NSA snooping, the US immigration bill and a sense that economic reforms may not be introduced at a faster pace.
Kerry and his colleague Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker not only failed to convince the Modi government to lift its veto against the WTO deal, they were troubled when India strongly raised the US immigration bill and cases of snooping by the NSA against a friendly country like India during the course of the dialogue last Thursday.
The BJP came down hard on the snooping issue as it was at the receiving end in 2010, sources pointed out. Officials admitted in private that unlike the UPA-2 government, which did not lodge a strong protest, the current government was quite clear about its objections in this matter. That Kerry was not satisfied with India's assertion was clear from his reply during the joint presser with Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, when he said intelligence matters are left best to the intelligence communities.
Image Courtesy: Reuters
Image of US Secretary of State John Kerry with PM Narendra Modi