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Modi, McCain speak of "revitalising" India-US ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed his desire to boost ties with the United States Thursday during a meeting with Senator John McCain, a day after another snooping row sparked by Washington's National Security Agency.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed his desire to boost ties with the United States Thursday during a meeting with Senator John McCain, a day after another snooping row sparked by Washington's National Security Agency.

Modi conveyed his wish to "further deepen and expand the strategic partnership" between the two countries during talks with McCain -- the first high-ranking US politician to visit since India's change of government in May.

The Republican senator, in turn, talked of revitalising India-US ties, a statement by Modi's office said.

The senator also said there was a "high level of expectations" in the United States that Modi's government could bring renewed momentum to the Indian economy.

The meeting came a day after India summoned the top US diplomat in New Delhi to complain for the third time about alleged spying by the National Security Agency.

A document leaked by fugitive intelligence worker Edward Snowden and published by the Washington Post on Monday showed the NSA was authorised to spy on Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in 2010.

The Indian government had made similar complaints on two previous occasions over revelations that its UN mission in New York and its Washington embassy were snooped on.

Thursday's statement did not touch on the controversy but said Modi had flagged the need to show "sensitivity to each other's concerns".

McCain, though, acknowledged in an interview with the CNN-IBN network that the US may have been responsible for "overstepping actions that would have angered our friends".

"We know that these things happen because of intelligence collection. It is very embarrassing though because we are friends now... now that the BJP is in power, and we don't have to do that anymore," he said.

Modi, whose party swept to power in May with the first majority in 30 years, is set to travel to the US in September for the UN General Assembly and his first meeting with President Barack Obama.

India-US relations are still recovering from a damaging dispute in December about the arrest and strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York, who was charged with visa fraud over the employment of a domestic servant.

The detention provoked a furious reaction from India and raised more doubts over a troubled alliance which Obama hoped in 2009 could become "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century".

The United States is keen to build personal ties with Modi after denying the Hindu nationalist a visa for nearly a decade over deadly riots that hit the state of Gujarat in 2002 while he was its leader.

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