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Jaishankar: ‘Act East’, ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies to have impact beyond South Asia

External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said that the realisation of this is evident from the potential of BIMSTEC in the Bay of Bengal region.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that the coming together of India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies will have an impact on the country beyond the confines of South Asia.

Addressing the Natural Allies in Development and Interdependence (NADI) Asian Confluence River Conclave in Guwahati, Jaishankar said, “The coming together therefore of the Act East and the Neighbourhood First policies have an enormous reinforcing impact. And it is one that extends beyond the confines of South Asia.”

The EAM said that the realisation of this is evident from the potential of BIMSTEC in the Bay of Bengal region.

During the event, Jaishankar said that if the land connectivity between Myanmar and sea connectivity between Bangladesh become viable then on a commercial scale, it will create an East-West lateral with sweeping consequences for the continent. He further said that it will be not only build on the partnership that India has with ASEAN countries and Japan but the ‘Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’ will also make a difference.

Recently during the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Japan, the member countries including India discussed on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework which will enable the United States and the allies to decide on rules of the road that ensure American workers, small businesses, and ranchers can compete in the Indo-Pacific.

Jaishankar said that the restoration of six historical cross-border rail links, dormant since 1965 is one of the major steps. He also said that the Shahabazpur (Bangladesh) to Mahishasan (Assam) link, which is the operational one, will be extended within Bangladesh and connected to the Kuluara-Shahbazpur rail line currently being modernised using an Indian line of credit (LoC).

“Inaugurated in December 2020, the Chilahati-Haldibari (West Bengal) line will further enhance Assam’s connectivity to Bangladesh through New Jalpaiguri, including passenger traffic. A new rail link from Akhaura (Bangladesh) to Agartala (Tripura) too is being developed under grant assistance and we all know that this is already increasing trade between India and Bangladesh,” Jaishankar added.

The EAM also informed about the projects that India is collaborating with Bangladesh on a series of road projects including the improvement of the Ashuganj River Port-Akhaura Land Port Road under an LoC of more than USD 400 million.

He further informed that the road project which is connecting Baruerhat to Ramgarh on the India-Bangladesh border, will increase Tripura’s road connectivity with Bangladesh and is being implemented under another LoC of USD 80.06 million.

“The success of four border haats between India and Bangladesh in the period before the pandemic has spurred enthusiasm. This encouraged us to set up three new haats in Meghalaya, inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Bangladesh in March 2021,” Jaishankar said.

He further said that nine new haats are being set up, three in Meghalaya, four in Tripura and two in Assam. Cross-border power transmission lines and digital connectivity infrastructure offer additional dimensions of connectivity.

MEA Dr S. Jaishankar nteracting with students at IIT Guwahati

Jaishankar, in his address, said that better connectivity is central for improving the business and easing livelihood in the state, for which they would need to tackle the topography-related challenges.

“Better connectivity is central to improving ease of doing business and living. We need to tackle topography related challenges,” he said.

“India that is more connected to the northeast and northeast that is more connected to India’s neighbours will be a transformation for the region,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that his government is working to make the state an industrial hub.

Sarma said, “Northeast is India’s gateway to Southeast Asia. Our government is working to make Assam an industrial hub not only for the region but also for catering requirements of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.” (ANI)

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Ties with China are going through a difficult phase: Jaishankar

Asked if the relationship with the West had improved as a result of the confrontation with China, he replied: “My relations with the West were quite decent before June 2020.”…reports Asian Lite News

In a prickly interaction with a moderator, S Jaishankar, Indian External Affairs Minister, remarked in a panel discussion at the annual Munich Security Conference that ties with China are going through a very difficult phase.

Answering a question on the Sino-India situation, the minister explained: “It’s a problem we are having with China; and the problem is this: that for 45 years there was peace, there was stable border management, there were no military casualties from 1975. That changed because we had agreements with China not to bring military forces to the border, we call it border but it’s a line of actual control, and the Chinese violated those agreements. Now the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship. That’s natural. So obviously relations with China are going through a very difficult phase.”

Asked if the relationship with the West had improved as a result of the confrontation with China, he replied: “My relations with the West were quite decent before June 2020.”

The questioner pointed out: “A recent poll, I think it was published just last week, indicates that on this occasion of the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations which we celebrate this year, levels of trust between ASEAN countries and India are fairly low. India ranks fifth, after Japan, the United States, the EU and China; and only 16.6 per cent of respondents in this poll have said that they have confidence in India.”

Jaishankar answered: “I am a politician, so I believe in polls. But I have never seen a poll which has made any sense to me when it comes to foreign policy. So I guess what you cited is probably part of a long list. I would say our relations right now with ASEAN are actually growing well. The two big changes which are taking place are, we have much stronger security cooperation with the ASEAN and the other is physical connectivity.”

There was a charge of lack of principle between India’s attitude towards China and policy towards Russia, when it came to the latter’s current stand-off with Ukraine. The minister challenged this by saying: “I don’t think the situations in the Indo-Pacific and the trans-Atlantic are really analogous. We have quite distinct challenges between what’s happening here (Europe) and what happening in the Indo-Pacific.”

He added: “I think principles and interests are balanced and if people were so principled in this part of the world, they would have been practicing those principles in Asia or in Afghanistan.”

Jaishankar was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘A Sea Change? Regional Order and Security in the Indo-Pacific’. Other speakers in the conversation were representatives of the three other QUAD member countries, namely Yoshimasa Hayashi, foreign minister in Japan, Marise Payne, the Australian foreign minister, and Jeanne Shaheen, a US senator.

Thirty heads of government or state and over 100 minister rank officials are attending the weekend conference.

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Jaishankar meets Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Abu Dhabi

Rajapaksa cautioned that if existing vaccines fail to protect against the new Omicron form, the globe might quickly return to square one, with border closures and other restrictions, including lockdown, imposed once more, with possibly devastating results…reports Asian Lite News.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday met with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the sidelines of 5th Indian Ocean Conference in Abu Dhabi.

“Good to meet President @GotabayaR at the 5th Indian Ocean Conference. His address was a prominent feature of the inaugural session,” EAM Jaishankar tweeted.

At the conference, President Rajapaksa spoke about the threat posed by the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, and urged governments with the resources to support the immunisation drive of less fortunate countries more effectively.

“We greatly appreciate the generosity of India, China, US and Japan, all of whom donated vaccines to us either directly or through COVAX which augmented the larger quantity Sri Lanka purchased from manufacturers on commercial terms,” he was quoted in Sri Lankan media.

“It is a matter of concern that the relatively slow rollout of the vaccines in some parts of the world has resulted in the emergence of a potentially devastating new variant of the virus that needs to be carefully monitored,” he added as per reports.

Rajapaksa cautioned that if existing vaccines fail to protect against the new Omicron form, the globe might quickly return to square one, with border closures and other restrictions, including lockdown, imposed once more, with possibly devastating results.

Noting that the impact of Covid-19 is one of the two developments heightening uncertainties that the Indian Ocean countries contemplate, Jaishankar said that the pandemic has not just been a once-in-century shock to the international system but has thoroughly exposed all its fault-lines and shortcomings.

“In economic terms, the dangers of over-centralized globalization are starkly apparent. The answer lies in both more reliable and resilient supply-chains as well as in greater trust and transparency,” he observed.

“In political terms, the absence of vaccine equity and the reluctance to cooperatively address a challenge of such magnitude spoke for itself. International organizations failed the world, whether in terms of establishing the origins of the problem or in leading the response to it,” Jaishankar added.

Mentioning that India has done its fair share in helping countries during the pandemic, he said, it has been expressed in the supply of medicines, vaccines, and oxygen, or in a willingness to take care of the expatriate population in times of difficulty.

“As we move from a ‘just in time’ globalization to a ‘just in case’ one, the Indian Ocean will witness shorter and multiple supply chains and a broader definition of what constitutes national security. These could well shape the nature of the recovery process,” the External Affairs Minister argued.

“We also need to expeditiously normalise travel through certification recognition so that livelihoods are restored ASAP. India has worked out solutions with about a 100 nations in that regard,” he said.

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Indo-Pacific is a fact of life, says Jaishankar

Speaking at the 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, EAM Jaishankar added that “the politics of the day apparently creates some reluctance in admitting to that”…reports Asian Lite News.

Pointing out that the Indo-Pacific was a fact of life, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that denying the Indo-Pacific was tantamount to denying globalization.

“Even those who ostensibly have reservations behave and operate in a manner that validates the Indo-Pacific. And that validation, as you all know, is in its very seamlessness and inter-penetration. In truth, everybody is aware that there is a fusion of theatres that were unnaturally separated earlier,” he noted.

Speaking at the 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, EAM Jaishankar added that “the politics of the day apparently creates some reluctance in admitting to that”.

“We could all ask why, if the realities were so obvious, that there should be hesitation or more in some quarters from recognizing what is staring us all in the face,” he asked.

“The answer is probably in the mind-set, possibly even in their insecurities. If one is steeped in the ethos of the Cold War and even leveraged it to advantage, it is not easy to accept that others can approach the world very differently. Especially if the objective is to create a wider, more collaborative and more democratic approach to achieve common good,” he explained.

“As globalization advances and becomes more diversified, there will only be a greater appreciation of the inter-dependence and broader footprints that the Indo-Pacific expresses. Given this direction, denying the Indo-Pacific is tantamount to denying globalization,” Jaishankar argued.

In the domain of international relations, it was natural that new concepts take time to be digested, Jaishankar went on to say.

“To facilitate that process, it is also important to show an openness of mind and acceptance that there can be many pathways to approach the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

The 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue was organized by the Indian Navy in association with the National Maritime Foundation.

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India, UK Review Roadmap 2030

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is on a two-day trip to India, has met External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and said that partnership with India is absolutely crucial, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Friday met British foreign secretary Liz Truss and did a comprehensive review of the bilateral relations, which included gauging the progress of Roadmap 2030.

Both Ministers undertook a detailed review of the Roadmap 2030 launched during the India-UK Virtual Summit held on 4 May, 2021, External Affairs Ministry (EAM) said in a statement.

India and UK Roadmap 2030 aimed to elevate the India-UK relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and this will also guide cooperation for the next 10 years covering all aspects of our multi-faceted relations.

After the meeting, the ministers appreciated the progress so far on the implementation of the Roadmap despite the constraints posed by the pandemic.

“There was detailed discussions focused on enhancing cooperation in the key priority areas of trade and investments, people-to-people relationship, health partnership, climate change, science & innovation and defence & security,” said MEA.

Both Ministers welcomed the progress in delivering the Enhanced Trade Partnership announced at the Virtual Summit and underlined the need for launching FTA negotiations at the earliest, with a focus on negotiating an interim agreement that can deliver quick gains to businesses in both India and the UK.

Both Ministers also discussed the Migration and Mobility Partnership and the Global Innovation Partnership and committed to their early implementation.

They also acknowledged the establishment of new dialogue mechanisms for discussing consular issues and maritime security. Both sides also agreed on instituting the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum Track, a new 1.5 Dialogue mechanism to foster expert deliberations on long-term strategic links between the two countries.

During her stay in New Delhi, Truss also met the Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman and the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav.

Truss and Sitharaman discussed “mutual areas of interest” including investments in green energy, infrastructure and National Monetization Pipeline.

In a series of tweets, the Ministry of Finance said, “Union Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman held a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Ms @trussliz to discuss mutual areas of interest in New Delhi today.”

“Finance Minister cited the close collaboration between the two countries, strengthened through the Comprehensive Strategy Partnership adopted by the Prime Ministers of India and UK in May 2021,” said the ministry in another tweet.

“Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman and Ms @trussliz discussed investments in green energy, infrastructure, National Monetization Pipeline, FinTech and IFSCA as key areas for further collaboration between UK and India,” stated the ministry.

After meeting EAM Jaishankar, the foreign secretary said that partnership with India is absolutely crucial.

“I am delighted to make this one of my early priorities as Foreign Secretary and indeed our second meeting together. It is because we see our partnership with India as absolutely crucial. You believe in free enterprise and you believe in freedom,” said UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

Truss stressed that both countries should work together on the set plans for the future.

“I think it’s very important that countries like ours act together on our shared plans for the future. We have a huge opportunity to deepen our relationship in a number of areas whether it’s security and defence, or technology, or health,” said Truss.

She also congratulated the nation on vaccinating 1 billion Indians in record time.

“Vaccination is a great area of collaboration between our two countries – the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced here at the Serum Institute. There’s so much more we can do in areas like sharing our expertise on the environment ahead of COP26,” added Truss.

She also said, “I am very much looking forward to positive discussions that will take our relationship forward.”

‘COP26 should be the COP of action, implementation’

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has assured India’s full support to the UK during their United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) presidency and said that the upcoming Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP 26) should be the COP of action and implementation.

As per the press note released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, crucial matters like COP26, UK COP26 initiatives, India UK Roadmap-bilateral cooperation, Commonwealth Declaration on Climate Change, and other related issues were discussed.

In the meeting, Yadav said “The huge expectations in COP 26 include arriving at a consensus on unresolved issues of the Paris Agreement Rule Book, long-term climate finance, market-based mechanisms, etc.”

“Stressing that COP26 should also initiate the process of setting the long-term climate finance for the post-2025 period, Yadav stated that India welcomes the UK COP 26 Presidency’s five key initiatives on sustainable land use, energy transition, low emission vehicle transition, climate finance, and adaptation,” says the release.

As per the note, both sides underlined the need for strengthening bilateral partnership and collaboration to facilitate the collective R&D of cutting-edge technologies and the transfer of proven technologies to drive low carbon pathways. (ANI)

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Ensuring inclusive govt in Afghanistan top priority, says Jaishankar

According to Jaishankar, developments in Asia were closely connected with those of the world…reports Asian Lite News.

Ensuring that Afghan territory is not used for supporting terrorism and promoting the formation of an inclusive Government are widely recognized as priorities, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

“Recent developments in Afghanistan have generated understandable concern in the region and beyond,” he pointed out on Tuesday.

He was speaking during a meeting of Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) Foreign Ministers with President of Kazakhstan Qasym-Jomart Toqayev.

“The voice of CICA can be a positive factor in shaping the response of the international community,” he noted.

According to Jaishankar, developments in Asia were closely connected with those of the world.

“Whether it is the scourge of terrorism and extremism, the health, economic and social effects of the pandemic, the protection of the global commons or the goals of sustainable development, we must appreciate the indivisibility of our existence. Such an awareness leads us to work together across a broad range of domains,” he observed.

Strengthening the collective resolve to tackle terrorism, arms trafficking, narcotics trade and other forms of trans-national crimes was more important than ever before, EAM Jaishankar pointed out.

“The habits of cooperation encouraged by CICA can be helpful in this regard,” he said.

EAM Jaishankar said the vision of the first President of Kazakhstan, Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, of establishing CICA as a forum for promoting peace and stability in Asia had come a long way. “We look forward to his continuing guidance,” he added.

According to Jaishankar, Kazakhstan’s Chairmanship and contribution continue to be a strong force in advancing this unique forum and its objectives.

“This gathering allows a broad range of nations to address shared concerns and interests in a collaborative manner. It has never been more needed than today,” he said. (India News Network)

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Days of unilateralism are over: Jaishankar

Apart from that natural understanding that it generates, similarity in the structural aspects of their relationships has helped to foster the platform…reports Asian Lite News.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said days of unilateralism are over, bilateralism has its own limits, and “as the Covid reminded us, multilateralism is simply not working well enough.”

“The resistance to reforming international organizations compels us to look for more practical and immediate solutions. And that is the case for the Quad,” the EAM said in his remarks at the JG Crawford Oration 2021 at the Australian National University.

He said in the last two decades the world has undergone quantum shifts along with more organic change.

“The geo-political turbulence in the Indo-Pacific, the ripple implications of the Afghanistan withdrawal and the larger consequences of the Covid pandemic are three such current examples. Those who connect the dots would surely agree that we are really now at the cusp of something big. As we seek to discern the outlines of what emerges next, there is no question that the Indo-Pacific would be very much at its core,” the EAM said

He said the Quad nations are all democratic polities, market economies and pluralistic societies. Apart from that natural understanding that it generates, similarity in the structural aspects of their relationships has helped to foster the platform.

“In each case, there are regular meetings at the Summit level, designated formally as annual in the case of Australia and Japan. All the bilateral ties now include a 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ interaction,” Jaishankar said.

“All four countries are members of ASEAN-led forums, including the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Defence Ministers Meeting. They also strongly subscribe to the centrality of ASEAN in so far as the Indo-Pacific. Between them, these four are involved in multiple trilateral combinations with other partners. In the case of India and Australia, they include those with France, Indonesia and Japan,” the EAM said.

He said, “The working of the Quad takes into account the consequences of globalization, requirements of the global commons and the expression of converging interests. The Malabar exercise is cited most often as its example. But Quad’s expanding agenda affirms a declared intention to promote greater prosperity and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific-so, it should not be seen narrowly.”

In the last two years, it has focused on challenges that vary from maritime security, cyber security and disaster response to connectivity and infrastructure, climate action and counter-terrorism.

“In keeping with the challenges of our times, it has also chosen to get involved with vaccine production, student mobility, resilient supply chains and combating disinformation. This sends a clear message when it comes to the genuine requirements today of the international community,” he said.

Talking about India -China relations, he said how former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi went to China in 1988 to boost New Delhi’s relationship with Beijing predicated on the fact that the border would be peaceful and tranquil. “We did that by a series of agreements which built confidence, which said don’t bring your military to the border,” Jaishankar said.

“After 1975 when we had a relatively small clash, we actually had no fatalities on the border. Yet what we saw last year was a complete departure. There was a very large Chinese military presence in very operational mode at the border without a good reason,” the EAM said.

Dwelling on the Galwan Valley clash in Eastern Ladakh in June last year, he said how it led to the loss of lives on both sides of the Line of Actual Control between India and China. “It has taken the relationship in a completely different direction,” Jaishankar said, adding, “In India, the challenge of how to manage our relationship with China ranks very very high.

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India proposes new plan to equip UN peacekeeping for challenges

India, which is the current President of the UNSC, convened the meeting from its experience of being the historically the biggest contributor to peacekeeping operations having sent about 250,00 peacekeepers of whom 174 paid the supreme sacrifice, reports Arul Louis

India on Wednesday proposed a multi-pronged plan to bring UN peacekeeping operations to the 21st century by deploying technologies to face the evolving threats.

“UN peacekeeping simply cannot afford to cede the information advantage to those actors determined to undermine prospects for peace by using modern technology to aid their violent cause,” India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said at a Security Council debate on technology and peacekeeping.

“Twenty-first century peacekeeping must be anchored in a strong ecosystem of technology and innovation that can facilitate UN peacekeeping operations in implementing their mandates in complex environments. Because the nature of peacekeeping missions and their attendant threats have become more complex, it is vital that our capabilities to secure the peacekeepers keep pace,” he said.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that new technologies “pose unfamiliar and profound threats, as seen most clearly in the online proliferation of violent extremist ideologies, increasingly prevalent cyber-attacks, and deadly vaccine misinformation. Emerging technologies are also blurring the lines between war and peace”.

Citing a need for acknowledging the new threats, he said: “States and non-state actors are carrying out malicious acts that fall below commonly understood thresholds for the use of force yet may still have devastating impact.”

He added that it was, therefore, essential that UN peacekeeping “fully embraces the digital world in which we live, to improve the UN’s agility, anticipation and responsiveness to conflicts, and to be able to address the challenges of today and tomorrow”.

India, which is the current President of the Council, convened the meeting from its experience of being the historically the biggest contributor to peacekeeping operations having sent about 250,00 peacekeepers of whom 174 paid the supreme sacrifice.

The UN is introducing a technology-enhanced facility, UNITE Aware Platform for its peackeeping operations to provide realtime information to personnel.

Jaishankar said that India is supporting the rollout of the UNITE Aware Platform, which would enable an entire peacekeeping operation to be visualised, coordinated, and monitored on a real-time basis.

“We should ensure that any attack on a peacekeeper or a civilian is predictable, preventable, or responded to immediately,” he said.

These are Jaishankar’s four-point programme for 21st century peacekeeping:

  • Focus on operationally proven, cost-effective, widely available, reliable and field-serviceable technologies.
  • Deploying a sound information and intelligence foundation to provide early warning and mobilisation of early response with precise positioning and overhead visualisation of mission environments.
  • Ensure that technological improvements are continuous and are available on the ground, “in the gear peacekeepers carry and the weapons and tools they use”.
  • Provide consistent training and capacity building of peacekeepers in the realm of technology needs attention and investment

“India is committed to long term engagement with the UNC4ISR Academy for Peace Operations in Entebbe, Uganda, to meet the training needs, link it with available technological capability, and shape future requirements,” Jaishankar said.

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‘India has transformed to modern economy, vibrant democracy’

“Our 75th year as a free nation is also the starting point to envision where we will be on our centenary,” said EAM S Jaishankar, reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the last 75 years, people of India have displayed collective commitment to create a vibrant democracy and a modern economy.

The EAM said this while inaugurating ”Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” on Friday ahead of India’s 75th Independence Day, organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR) in Delhi.

“As the tricolour unfolds at the Red Fort this 15th August, we will be marking a historic milestone in the journey of a civilizational state towards a contemporary nation. This is certainly a moment for celebration; but equally one for introspection and renewed resolve,” Jaishankar said.

“In the 75 years that have passed, we, the people of India, have displayed a huge collective commitment to creating a vibrant democracy, a modern economy and an energetic civil society. To that end, we have drawn on the efforts of untold and often unknown freedom fighters, as also masses of citizens who nurtured their spirit. We, therefore, pay homage to those whose sacrifices make our tomorrow possible,” he added.

The EAM further noted that in this period, along with India, the world has changed profoundly. Significant shifts – starting with the economy and extending to politics, to culture and to other domains – have driven a rebalancing process that is creating a multi-polar world, he said.

“In such a reality, the capabilities, the influence, in fact, the very personality of our nation has a growing impact on the world order. This ability to shape global developments through an optimal mix of hard and soft power constitutes the essence of our diplomacy today. And, we can embark on that now with much greater confidence than ever before,” the EAM said.

The EAM said that it was inevitable that once democracy struck deeper roots in India, that the authentic voices of our society would find expression.

“We see that every day at home in a variety of ways. As a result, our heritage, traditions and practices are once again getting the recognition that they have long deserved. The celebration of the International Day of Yoga is symbolic of that development. This anniversary, of course, offers us an opportunity to present to the world many other facets of our rich and diverse culture,” he said.

The EAM pointed out that as we approached this momentous anniversary, India too was severely tested by the Covid pandemic. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our people responded courageously not only at home, but stood with others abroad as well.

While concluding the address, Jaishankar said, “Our 75th year as a free nation is also the starting point to envision where we will be on our centenary. The bold transformations at home will give us an increasingly salient role in the international system.”

“As a democratic polity, a pluralistic society, an innovative economy and as a culture of unmatched diversity, our contributions have a real weight and value. Our ability to harmonize tradition and modernity stands out in particular. Already, India is perceived as a first responder, a climate action leader, the pharmacy of the world, a reservoir of talent and as a reliable development partner,” he added. (India News Network)

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Visiting SAARC Secretary General meets Jaishankar

Weerakoon is a Sri Lankan diplomat and assumed charge as the Secretary General of the SAARC last year…reports Asian Lite News.

In a bid to strengthen regional cooperation including Covid-19 management, SAARC Secretary General Esala Ruwan Weerakoon who is on a week-long visit to India, from August 8 to 14 on Tuesday met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said nice to welcome back E. R. Weerakoon, the 14th SAARC Secretary General.

Earlier, Union Minister Rajkumar Ranjan Singh met Esala Ruwan Weerakoon.

In a tweet, MEA Spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Ranjan received Weerakoon, who is on his customary introductory visit to India. Minister Rajkumar wished him well for his term at the SAARC.

Weerakoon is a Sri Lankan diplomat and assumed charge as the Secretary General of the SAARC last year.

In March 2020, the SAARC leaders, under India’s initiative, held a virtual meeting to chalk out a common strategy to effectively deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his message on the occasion of the 36th charter day of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) had called for a commitment to defeat the forces that “support and nurture terrorism”.

Since the 2014 Kathmandu summit, the SAARC has not held its leadership meet.

The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Pakistan. But after the terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18, 2016, India had expressed its reluctance in participating in the summit saying, “Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region… have created an environment that is not conducive for the meet.” (India News Network)

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