Amid political rumblings in the run up to national elections, it’s business as usual for Indian diplomacy as New Delhi braces to host the leaders from Norway and Mauritius, among others, and a host of foreign ministers from countries as diverse as Iran, Mongolia, Spain, Japan, and Australia.
And India is not going to be just talking libraries, as the maverick US President Donald Trump said with his locker-room sneer, casually mocking New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan. Mr Trump may be disdainful of libraries, but if he had bothered to read up a bit, rather than parade his ignorance, he would have probably said something more meaningful to say about India’s transformative role in Afghanistan and its growing profile as a stabiliser in a conflicted geopolitical landscape.
Building on a successful 2018, marked by deft multi-alignment as its operative mantra, India is set to advance its strategic and economic partnership with a diverse set of countries, which contribute significantly to the country’s development agenda.
The India-Nordic connect is set to grow stronger during the visit of Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg, which will focus on bolstering partnership in areas of clean energy, technology and innovation. Ahead of the visit, Norwegian ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg placed India-Norway relationship in the larger context of a rules-based international order. “For a small country like Norway, which is very much dependent on trade and has the fifth biggest merchant fleet, we are very much dependent on international law and norms being upheld. From that point of view, India is a very important cooperation partner,” said the envoy.
The meeting between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono will seek to advance the multi-faceted agenda that was firmed up during PM Modi’s visit to Tokyo in November. With Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne, issues relating to trade and investment, enhanced maritime partnership and collaboration in the Indo-Pacific are set to be high on the agenda.
Balancing US & Iran
Although India has won a time-bound waiver for imports of Iranian oil, the talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will be crucial in mapping the way forward for not just oil-related transactions, but also for the larger strategic partnership.
On another track, senior officials of India and the United States are also expected to hold talks in Delhi to review and implement initiatives firmed up during the maiden 2+2 dialogue held between the foreign ministers and defence ministers of the two countries in September 2018.
Besides bilateral diplomacy, the next week promises to be an intense brainstorming exercise for shaping India’s choices in a mutating world order at the flagship geopolitical conference, Raisina Dialogue, held under the auspices of India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-headquartered think tank.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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