Eco­nomic Diplo­macy to Guide For­eign Pol­icy

Modi, in his in­di­vid­ual meet­ings with Saarc heads, will talk about bi­lat­eral ties and other re­gional is­sues

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics Modi -

Iam car­ry­ing the mes­sage of peace,” said Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif be­fore he left for In­dia on Mon­day to at­tend the oath­tak­ing cer­e­mony of Prime Min­is­ter-des­ig­nate Naren­dra Modi, per­haps re­cip­ro­cat­ing the spirit with which Modi in­vited the lead­ers of neigh­bour­ing coun­tries as he tries to strengthen bonds with each one of them. While lit­tle could be achieved in a 30-minute meet­ing be­tween Sharif and Modi at the Hy­der­abad House on Tues­day, it's the ges­ture and op­tics that are more sig­nif­i­cant. In fact, never in the his­tory of in­de­pen­dent In­dia a Pak­istani PM or other for­eign lead­ers have been in­vited to at­tend the swear­ing in of any In­dian PM. But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had said in its elec­tion man­i­festo that it is go­ing to re-boot In­dia’s for­eign pol­icy, and prob­a­bly a be­gin­ning has been made with the in­vi­ta­tion to Saarc lead­ers. Among the sub­jects that Modi and Sharif could touch upon in­clude con­nec­tiv­ity is­sues, en­ergy part­ner­ship, Si­achen, Sir Creek and cross-bor­der ter­ror, in­clud­ing ex­pe­dit­ing the 26/11 trial and Kash­mir. This maiden meet­ing be­tween the two lead­ers would go a long way in im­prov­ing re­la­tions which could even­tu­ally help in ad­dress­ing cer­tain con­tentious is­sues. While com­mon is­sues af­fect­ing the Saarc re­gion is un­likely to be dis­cussed in a struc­tured and col­lec­tive for­mat, Modi in his in­di­vid­ual meet­ings with each re­gional leader, would dwell on bi­lat­eral and re­gional is­sues, se­nior sources in the South Block in­di­cated to ET. Lack of seam­less con­nec­tiv­ity, in­tra-re­gional trade and co­or­di­nated ef­forts to tackle the men­ace of ter­ror are among the main chal­lenges con­fronting the South Asian coun­tries. South Asia continues to be one of the poor­est re­gions of the world with ris­ing in­equal­i­ties. The other chal­lenge for In­dia is to main­tain its po­si­tion amid Chi­nese in­roads in the neigh­bour­hood.

Be­sides Sharif, Modi will meet Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa, Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, Bhutanese Prime Min­is­ter Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay, Nepalese Prime Min­is­ter Sushil Koirala and Mal­di­vian Pres­i­dent Ab­dulla Yameen Ab­dul Gay­oom, Bangladesh Par­lia­ment Speaker Shirin Chaud­hury and Mau­ri­tius Prime Min­is­ter Navin­chan­dra Ram­goolam separately for 30 min­utes each on Tues­day morn­ing. With Mau­ri­tius, the fo­cus will be on mar­itime se­cu­rity and de­fence part­ner­ship as In­dia wants to emerge as a power in the In­dian Ocean Re­gion. An of­fi­cial speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity told ET that send­ing in­vites to SAARC lead­ers was a mas­ter­stroke by Modi.

Modi ex­tends a hand of friend­ship to Pak PM Sharif

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