New Delhi: In tune with its initiative to improve ties with neighbours, the government has summoned the heads of Indian Missions in these countries including China and Pakistan for a day-long conclave in Delhi on Monday, aimed at charting out “concrete follow-up plan” with each country within specified timelines.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will chair all the sessions of the conclave – the first of its kind – where she will take stock of the current state of play in India’s relations with each of the neighbouring countries and set down the new government’s priorities and approach.
“Following up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic initiative to invite leaders of SAARC countries and Mauritius to his swearing in ceremony, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has summoned all Indian Heads of Mission in the neighbourhood for a day-long conclave here tomorrow,” official sources said.
They said the conclave is aimed at charting out concrete follow-up plans with each South Asian neighbour within “specified timelines”.
Head of Mission in Mauritius has also been asked to attend the conclave which comes within a month of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the leaders of India’s South Asian neighbours.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom were among the South Asian leaders who had attended Modi’s swearing-in on May 26.
Bangladesh was represented by Speaker Shirin Chaudhury as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on a visit to Japan.
Modi had bilateral meetings with each of the leaders. This was for the first time the heads of state and government of SAARC nations were invited to attend the swearing-in of an Indian Prime Minister.
Besides, SAARC nations, Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam also had attended the in ceremony. The government has already gave a clear indication that improving ties with the neighbouring countries was a priority for it.
Prime Minister Modi had chosen Bhutan for his first foreign trip and paid a two-day visit to the country from June 15 during which he said that having a good neighbour was important for a country’s happiness and in its absence a nation cannot live in peace despite prosperity.
After taking charge as External Affairs Minister, Swaraj too had said that she will focus on improving ties with neighbouring countries besides others. Swaraj will pay a three-day visit to Bangladesh from June 25 during which she will hold talks with top leadership.
India has already made it clear that it wants to improve relations with Pakistan provided it stops terror activities directed against it.
Recently, Modi had written to Sharif saying he looked forward to charting a “new course” in the bilateral relations in an atmosphere “free from confrontation and violence”.
Responding to a letter by Sharif, Modi had said that “a relationship between India and Pakistan defined by peace, friendship and cooperation would unleash enormous opportunities for our youth, secure a more prosperous future for our people and accelerate progress across our region.”
Earlier in June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India and held extensive talks with Swaraj during which both sides resolved to deepen their cooperation in various areas.