Modi in Myanmar: Pow-pow with China, hug for Russia

modi-asean-leadersThree days in Myanmar and over a dozen meetings – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems be on a major diplomatic swing. The prime ministers of the two Asian giants met for the first time in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar, November 13, with China’s Premier Li Keqiang saying he was looking forward to the Indian leader’s maiden visit to his country.

India-China bonhomie

India-China bilateral relations will be among the most closely watched during the tenure of the new Modi-led BJP government in India. Little wonder then that the Modi-Li Keqiang meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit at the Myanmar International Convention Centre grabbed eyeballs. The two leaders appeared to strike the right notes with the latter saying he is looking forward to seeing the Indian prime minister in Beijing.

Modi, in turn, recalled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September, which took place in the backdrop of an incursion by PLA troops in the Chumar sector of eastern Ladakh. After the Modi-Keqiang meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted that the Indian PM told his Chinese counterpart that Jinping’s trip to India was “a memorable visit”. A Modi-Xi meeting is expected on the margins of the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia later this week when leaders of the BRICS countries meet informally.

India a valued partner: Medvedev

Another world leader whom Mr Modi met for the first time after taking charge of the government in May this year was Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The meeting took place just weeks ahead of the India-Russia annual summit slated to be held in New Delhi next month. Prime Minister Medvedev described India as a “close and valued partner” to Modi and said the two countries were cooperating in many different areas. Both sides said that federal units of the two countries (states/regions) should cooperate more with each other. modi-asean-leaders1It was a day of hectic diplomatic activity for Prime Minister Modi who participated in the back-to-back Asean-India and East Asia summits.

Apart from participating in the proceedings of the East Asia Summit on November 13, Mr Modi also had four bilateral engagements on the margins of the multilateral meet. He met Philippines President Benigno Aquino III and newly-elected Indonesian president Joko Widodo. During his meeting with the new Indonesian president, Modi congratulated him and invited him to visit India. He also seized the opportunity to invite more Indonesian companies to do business with India while sharing with Mr Widodo his `Make in India’ initiative. Modi also told the Indonesian leader: “Common challenges can be combated in cooperation,” Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. Dmodi-eas1uring his meeting with President Aquino, Modi is said to have been assured by him that the internal process for signing the Asean-India FTA is well underway.

Mr Modi’s Nov 11-13 trip to Myanmar has been marked by back-to-back meetings. Besides attending Asean and the East Asia Summit over two days and holding wide-ranging talks with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, Mr Modi held six bilateral meetings on November 12. These included meetings with the leaders of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and South Korea. He also met Myanmar’s pro-democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The Indian prime minister looks headed for wide-ranging diplomatic engagement in Australia (Nov 14-18) where he will attend the G20 summits and hold a series of bilateral meetings with the leaders of developed and emerging economies.

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