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Govt has reinforced relationship with neighbouring countries in first six months: Jaishankar


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Modi government has reinforced India's relationship with all neighbouring nations as well as countries in the Gulf, South East Asia and Africa in the first six months of its second tenure, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
However, over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), he said India was unable to associate as the agreement, in its present form, "does not satisfactorily address" the country's outstanding issues and concerns.
"The prime minister conveyed that India had participated in theEP negotiations very sincerely and in a spirit of compromise, but was unable to finally associate itself with theEP agreement since the agreement in its present form does not satisfactorily address all our outstanding issues and concerns.
"The government remains firmly committed to upholding our interest in all such negotiations," Jaishankar said.
India took the call not to join theEP, despite spending a considerable amount of time on the negotiating table, he added.
TheEP bloc comprises 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) group members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
In a suo motu (on its own) statement, the foreign minister informed the House about the efforts undertaken by the government to promote its foreign policy.
"In the first six moths of this government's tenure, we have reemphasised our Neighbourhood First policy, reinforced our relationships with all the major countries at the highest level, worked to expand our relations with the Gulf, South East Asia and African regions," he said.
The government had launched a new international initiative known as the coalition of disaster resilient infrastructure and had also expressed a strong interest in fulfilling its commitments to the sustainable developmental goals and in reforming the multilateral system so as to make it responsive to the current requirements, he added.
In pursuing these objectives, the government had always maintained its independence and autonomy in the exercise of its foreign policy and ensured that national interests determined its foreign policy, Jaishankar said.

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First Published: Nov 28 2019 | 7:45 PM IST

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