In­dia to Play Safe While Meet­ing with Big Pow­ers

Likely to hold talks with Ja­pan-US-Aus in Nov to counter China threat; en­voys of Rus­sia, China to visit New Delhi in Dec

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury

NewDelhi: TheNaren­draModigov­ern­ment will be try­ing to keep a del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act go­ing as it en­gages with­ma­jor­pow­ersinNovem­berand De­cem­ber.

While an of­fi­cial-level meet­ing of the In­dia-Ja­pan-US-Aus­tralia quadri­lat­eral is ex­pected in Manila in Novem­ber—with an eye on bal­anc­ing an ag­gres­sive China—on the side­lines of the East Asia Sum­mit, Delhi will be host­ing for­eign min­is­ters of Rus­sia and China in De­cem­ber un­der the Rus­sia-In­di­aChina (RIC) trilateral for­mat.

The idea of the quadri­lat­eral was con­ceived by Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and the first meet­ing was held in 2007. How­ever, Aus­tralia had later pulled out of the ini­tia­tive. Last week, US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son too had in his meet­ing with ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj pushed the idea of the quadri­lat­eral that was echoed near si­mul­ta­ne­ously by Ja­panese for­eign min­is­ter in an in­ter­view to lo­cal me­dia.

In De­cem­ber, Rus­sian for­eign min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Wang Yi will visit In­dia for the RIC con­vened by Swaraj. Wang will be the first high-level vis­i­tor from Bei­jing since the Dokalam cri­sis and Xi Jin­ping’s re-elec­tion as gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party, and pres­i­dent and chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion.

When asked about Delhi’s po­si­tion on­the­quadri­lat­eral,anMEAspokesper­son had last Fri­day sig­nalled cau­tion, say­ing In­dia has an open mind to­co­op­er­ate­with­coun­trieswith­con­ver­gence but ob­vi­ously to an agenda that is rel­e­vant to Delhi.

In­dia was sched­uled to hold the RIC meet this April but China had re­fused to join on that oc­ca­sion, al­legedly to protest against Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit. While the RIC meet will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to de­lib­er­ate upon key global chal­lenges in­clud­ing global and cross-bor­der ter­ror, Afghan and North Korean sit­u­a­tions, sta­bil­ity of seas, and BRICS-re­lated­de­vel­op­ments,alleyes will be on Wang’s meet­ings and the mes­sage he car­ries from the top. Wang will hold bi­lat­eral meet with Swaraj be­sides call­ing on the PM.

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