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Diplomatic talks with China show foreign, def policies joined at hip: EAM

A different world view propelled a comprehensive review of the foreign policy post-2014, Jaishankar said.

S Jaishankar

S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister | File photo

Press Trust of India New Delhi
The diplomatic interactions going on with China in parallel to the military standoff since May 2020 illustrate that foreign and defence policies are really joined at the hip, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
Delivering the St Stephen's College MRF Distinguished Alumni Annual Lecture, he said the world being what it is, self-interest and convergence cannot be fully counted upon, especially with neighbours.
"Their ambitions and emotions are not always predictable, nor indeed their risk-taking propensity. Few would have anticipated, for example, the turn that India's relations with China have taken in the last two years. Any prudent policy therefore backs its posture with capabilities and deterrence," he said.
A big responsibility of Indian diplomacy, therefore, is to create the widest set of options for such contingencies, he said, adding that this could mean acquisition of defence capabilities and other supportive measures or securing the understanding for our policies and actions from the international community.
And for that matter, in managing or resolving more fraught situations, he said.
Noting that a very different challenge is being faced on the Western boundary vis-a-vis Pakistan, the external affairs minister said on that front, the initial goal of diplomacy was to expose and de-legitimise Pakistan's cross-border terrorism.
When counter-actions were required such as in Uri in 2016 and Balakot in 2019, effective diplomacy ensured global understanding of India's actions," he said.
"Where China was concerned, the diplomatic interactions that are going on in parallel to the military stand-off since May 2020 illustrate that foreign and defence policies are really joined at the hip. Here too, the value of global support and understanding is self-evident," Jaishankar said.
Underlining that the leveraging of a multi-polar world has been particularly visible in terms of weapons and technologies needed by our defence forces, Jaishankar said a Rafale aircraft acquisition from France can take place at the same time as that of an MH-60R helicopter or P-8 aircraft from the US, the S-400 missile system from Russia or the Spice bombs from Israel "speaks volumes of our nimbleness".
These are typically accompanied by military exercises and policy exchanges that bring about greater strategic comfort, he said.
In short, diplomacy supports, empowers and facilitates the national security effort, he added.
Jaishankar said some of this happens on the domestic side as well, even if it is less obvious, and pointed out that peace at home has often been troubled by insurgent groups operating in the neighbourhood.
"Adept diplomacy, however, has effectively discouraged neighbours from providing shelter or support, with one notable exception of course. Separatism and fundamentalism have also been propagated from destinations afar, just as violence is sometimes rationalized," he said.
The protection of free speech are misused, usually in the name of democratic rights, Jaishankar said, adding that when arguments and persuasion reach limits, other forms of displeasure sometimes need to be expressed.
"Our overall posture does radiate the message that India will no longer be a soft target and diplomacy in that sense is not always a pleasant business," he said.
A different world view propelled a comprehensive review of the foreign policy post-2014, Jaishankar said.
The new energy in India's endeavours is evident, notably in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's own engagements, he said.
"Some of India's neighbours had not bilaterally hosted an Indian Prime Minister for years on end. Even a proximate region like the Gulf, leave alone those much further off, had seen a want of high-level attention for decades. Smaller nations, whether they are in the Caribbean or the Pacific, had actually been completely neglected,' he said.
"And to be very honest with you, Nations of Africa and Latin America had found their reach-out to be inadequately reciprocated. Now all of this has changed, and you can see that in terms of visits - bilateral visits, in terms of collective summits, in development partnerships and in fact opening of more Indian Embassies abroad," the minister said.
In India's immediate region, the message of 'Neighbourhood First' began to resonate, in fact, from the swearing-in ceremony in 2014, Jaishankar pointed put.
"Its successor in 2019 further reinforced that impression. But this was not just symbolism; discernible progress in projects and activities have also lent it credibility," Jaishankar said.
The minister also lauded the evacuation of Indians in August last year from Afghanistan at the time of the Taliban takeover.
A huge effort was made by the Indian government to bring people home, Jaishankar said.
"It was as challenging as combining access to a secured American base that was on edge, surrounded by desperate Afghans and suspicious Taliban; of using Tajik rear support for very rapid responses, of accessing Iranian airspace at short notice and of quietly utilizing Qatari facilitation," he said.
"Now this might seem, even from my account, as exceptionally complicated logistics. But it was really more than that; behind it were years of relationships that really delivered at a time of need. Equally important, this represented the efficacy of a flexible and pragmatic Indian policy of multiple engagement," the minister said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 25 2022 | 12:02 AM IST

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