EXTERNAL Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday outlined India’s contributions across the world and said New Delhi is willing to engage more with countries pertaining to different matters.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in Washington DC on Thursday. (ANI)
“We are in a very unique position. Being a market economy, and a democratic and socially pluralistic country, we have comfort with the West. Being a part of rising Asia, we have comfort with a lot of rebalancing with Asian countries,” he said at an interactive session of the World Economic Forum.
“While working with countries of Asia and Africa, we have a much stronger bonding with those countries. You saw recently at the UN, the willingness today to go out and engage with countries, visit more countries and therefore you can see a new energy in our foreign affairs,” Jaishankar outlined. Talking about South Asia, Jaishankar said that India’s development can lift the region and listed joint infrastructural projects undertaken in the region. “We don’t talk reciprocity in our neighbourhood anymore... The entire neighbourhood, minus one, has been a good story of regional cooperation,” he said in a veiled reference to Pakistan.
Jaishankar said he wanted to see the Indian foreign policy influential enough to decide global outcomes. “India is an exception as we are more nationalistic, but at the same time we don’t see a tension between being nationalistic and being international, in the sense of engaging more with the world, so nationalism is not a negative sentiment,” he stressed.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said, India’s entire neighbourhood “minus one” has been a “fairly good story” for regional cooperation. The abrogation of Article 370 provisions did come up for discussion in his meetings during the recent US visit, Jaishankar added at a session of the India Economic Summit here. “That is natural for many people when there is a change of status...,” he said during a conversation with World Economic Forum president Borge Brende. Jaishankar said he “spoke fairly extensively” in the US on the Kashmir issue -- on the background, history, “why we did, what we did” -- and asserted that a lot of it was new to the people he discussed the matter with. “Hardly anybody had the realisation that this (Article 370) was a temporary article in the Constitution or the mis-alignment due to the fact that a lot of the national laws did not apply in Jammu and Kashmir State. These were all new things to them,” Jaishankar said.
Discussing India’s push for strengthening of ties with its neighbours, the Minister said, “I would say the entire neighbourhood, minus one, has actually been a fairly good story of regional cooperation.”
Asked if the impasse with ‘minus one’ would continue, he said he hopes that someday even the ‘minus one’ comes around to regional cooperation.
“You put Kashmir aside for a moment...Today, with everybody else, trade, business, connectivity and contacts are increasing. Surely, at some stage, that would have an impact because you would see everybody else prospering with that cooperation,” the External Affairs Minister said.
“I always remain hopeful. I’m not unrealistic, I know we have big challenges. They (Pakistan) have a mindset issue that they have to overcome,” Jaishankar said.