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India lashes out at US in solar trade spat

India on Tuesday said it was investigating "restrictive" US solar trade policies, as it lashed out at Washington over its WTO complaint against New Delhi that has worsened already frayed bilateral ties.

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday said it was investigating "restrictive" US solar trade policies, as it lashed out at Washington over its World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint against New Delhi that has worsened already frayed bilateral ties.

Washington on Monday said it was taking India to the WTO in a bid to open up its solar industry, alleging that New Delhi was unfairly restricting access to US suppliers as the energy-hungry nation moves ahead with an ambitious plan to boost solar power.

Dismissing the allegations, Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said the country's solar programme was "WTO compliant", and it would defend its policies before the Geneva-based body.

He said India had its own reservations about US solar energy projects, accusing them of being protectionist in nature.

"We have clear evidence of, I think, 13-odd (US) states which follow equally restrictive policies," Kher said, according to the Press Trust of India. "So we are examining their policies."

The trade spat comes after US authorities in December arrested a New York-based Indian diplomat on charges of underpaying her servant and lying on the worker's visa application, setting off one of the worst rifts in years between the countries.

The row abated a month ago when the diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, was allowed to return to India just as she was indicted. Indian lawmakers and commentators accused US authorities of humiliating the diplomat through a strip-search.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman on Monday said the WTO action was consistent with calls by President Barack Obama's administration to work with India on renewable energy. The world's two largest democracies have both identified climate change as a major area for cooperation.

Under the WTO process, the Geneva-based body would set up talks between the United States and India to find a solution. If the consultations do not succeed within 30 days, the United States could ask the WTO to set up a panel to settle the dispute.

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