In the last few weeks, the Indian Republic has extended the reaches of its powers, by consulting and collaborating with several countries, ranging from the United Kingdom to the Russian Federation. The country has also established its commitment to the Afghanistan project while trying to fight to battle for global disarmament and non-proliferation through a partnership with the European Union. However, not all have been pleasant for the country, as recently the Ministry of External Affairs released a statement condemning the recent resolutions passed by the Organisation for the Islamic Conference. Lastly, through the report, we see that the External Affairs Minister travelled to several countries toward the end of November to review and further explore avenues to strengthen India’s Strategic Partnership with countries.

India-Russia consultation on UNSC issues

A delegation from the Indian Republic, being led by Shri Vikas Swarup, from the Ministry of External Affairs, met with a delegation being led by Mr. Sergey Vasilyevich Vershinin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The consultations focused on India’s acceptance of the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council. The Russian side appreciated India taking its place within the family of nations. Both sides focused on the agenda for the 2021-22 tenure. The Indian delegation along with emphasizing its commitment to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism at multilateral platforms apprised the Russian delegation on its priorities. Lastly, the two countries decided to work closely together, given the common challenges faced and in keeping with their long-standing Special and Strategic Privileged Partnerships.

Unwarranted references to India in resolutions adopted by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference

On the 29th of November, the Ministry of External Affairs released a statement rejecting the references made to the Republic of India in the recent resolutions adopted by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) at the 47th CFM session in Niamey, Republic of Niger. The ministry reinstated its belief that the Organisation for Islamic Conference has no locus standi in matters pertaining to domestic governance of the country, which also includes the highly volatile region of Jammu and Kashmir which the current government believes to be an integral and inalienable part of India. India expressed its contempt at the fact that the organization was being used by a country that itself has been under the spotlight numerous times in the past for religious tolerance, radicalism, and prosecution of minorities. The country finally delivered an ultimatum of sorts by suggesting that the Organisation for Islamic Conference refrain from making such unwarranted and factually incorrect references to India.

India- United Kingdom Dialogue

The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi spoke to His Excellency Mr. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on the 27th of November. The two leaders started their consultation by shedding light on the current situation in regards to COVID 19 in their specific countries and used the opportunity to promise cooperation between India and the UK in the area of vaccine development and manufacturing. The two leaders explored the possibility of further strengthening relations between the two countries, in areas related to trade and investment, scientific research, mobility of students and professionals, and defense and security. The two sides recalled their commitment to platforms like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure while agreeing that delegations from both countries should work towards creating a roadmap for the India-UK partnership.

India commitments at Afghanistan Conference 2020

The Afghanistan Conference, organized in Geneva, co-hosted by the United Nations, The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and the government of Finland, saw the participation of an Indian delegation, been led by S. Jaishankar. The External Affairs Minister announced at the conference that India had just concluded with Afghanistan an agreement for the construction of the Shatoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city. India had earlier built the 202-km Phul-e-Khumri transmission line that provided

electricity to Kabul city. The Ministry of External Affairs recently also announced the launch of Phase-IV of the High Impact Community Development Projects in Afghanistan, which envisages more than 100 projects worth US$ 80 million that India would undertake in Afghanistan. In his statement, Jaishankar emphasized India’s long term commitment to the development of Afghanistan and the benefit of its people as a contiguous neighbour and strategic partner. The delegation also highlighted India’s efforts to provide alternate connectivity through Chabahar port and a dedicated Air Freight Corridor between India and Afghanistan. Lastly, Jaishankar voiced his concerns in regards to the increasing level of violence in Afghanistan and reiterated India’s call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

India-EU consultation on disarmament and non-proliferation

The European Union and India held the sixth round of consultations on disarmament and non-proliferation. The consultation saw the sides exchange vital information on areas of nuclear, chemical, biological disarmament and non-proliferation, outer space security issues, strategic stability. Environment and other developments of mutual interest. The main aim of the consultations was to enhance mutual understanding and appreciation between India and the EU on international security issues.

4th NSA Level Meeting on Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation

The Indian National Security Advisor Shri Ajit Doval, visited Colombo to participate in the 4th NSA Level Meeting on Trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation. The meeting previously had been held in the Maldives in 2011, Sri Lanka in 2013, and India in 2014. The NSA level meetings have served as a platform for cooperation among Indian Ocean countries. Apart from the Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka and NSA Shri Ajit Doval from India, Defence Minister H.E. Mariya Didi will also participate in the meeting representing the Maldives. The meeting will provide an opportunity for discussion on issues pertaining to cooperation in maritime security in the Indian Ocean region. On the sidelines of the Trilateral Meeting, NSA is also expected to have other high-level bilateral engagements.

Bahrain, UAE, and Seychelles

External Affairs Minister, Dr. S.Jaishankar undertook a visit to Bahrain, UAE, and Seychelles from the 24th to the 29th of November, during which he met his counterparts and the leaders of the countries. Jaishankar’s visit to Bahrain is his first to the country since he took on the role as External Affairs Minister of India. Jaishakar used the opportunity to convey condolences on behalf of the Government of India and the people of India to the Bahrininin leadership on the demise of Prime Minister HH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The Minister will hold talks with the Bahrain leadership on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The External Affairs Minister visited the United Arab Emirates next, during which he met the Foreign Minister of UAE, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During the interaction between the two leaders, they focused on taking forward the excellent cooperation between Indian and the United Arab Emirates under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The meeting reached a productive outcome as the two leaders were able to discuss ways in which Indian workers could resume their jobs in the UAE, as more than 3 million Indians live and work in the country. India and the UAE have maintained close contact during the pandemic. Prime Minister Modi has spoken to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the pandemic. The two heads of state also co-chaired the India-UAEJoint Commission Meeting in September 2020.

Lastly, Jaishankar visited the Republic of Seychelles on the 27th and the 28th of November 2020. The Foreign Affairs Minister met with the newly elected President, H.E. MR. Wavel Ramkalawan to present greetings of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, and discussed with him what the priorities for the Indian government are and focused on exploring new areas and avenues for strengthening India-Seychelles bilateral relations.

Ratnadityasinh Chavda

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