While delivering his remarks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic during his recently-concluded visit to the country, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that each of India’s engagements had its own particular weight and focus. Whether it was the United States, Europe, Russia, or Japan, India was trying to ensure that ties with all nations advanced without seeking exclusivity.
“However, China falls into a different category,” said Jaishankar.
Jaishankar was on a visit to the Dominican Republic from April 27-29.
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He said India had been pursuing a strategy of connecting to Central Asia more effectively and this had taken the form of structured engagements across several domains.
“At a higher level, we are practicing the approach of engaging with all significant centres of power. Such multi-alignment reflects the reality of multi-polarity,” he said.
“China falls into a somewhat different category because of the boundary dispute and the currently abnormal nature of our ties,” he added.
Referring to China’s activities at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Jaishankar said, “That is an outcome of violation of agreements regarding border management by them. The rise of China and India in a parallel time frame is also not without its competitive aspects.”
India’s most pressing priorities in its neighbourhood: Jaishankar
He said that India’s most pressing priorities were obviously in its neighbourhood. Given India’s size and economic strength, it was very much for the collective benefit that India took a generous and non-reciprocal approach to cooperation with smaller neighbours, he said.
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He said that India was pursuing the “Neighbourhood First Policy”.
“The exception to this, of course, is Pakistan in view of the cross-border terrorism that it supports. But whether it is the COVID challenge or the more recent debt pressures, India has always stepped up for its neighbours,” said the external affairs minister.
Concept of extended neighbourhoods in all directions
He further said that beyond South Asia, India was developing the concept of extended neighbourhoods in all directions, with the Act East Policy in the ASEAN, and the QUAD mechanism in the Indo-Pacific.
Jaishankar added that there had been a perceptible “intensification” of India’s relationship with the Gulf and the Middle East. One reflection of that was the new grouping called I2U2, comprising India, Israel, UAE, and the USA.
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“These two regions have emerged as major trade and investment hubs for India,” he said.
He said the relationship with the Gulf region was not only economic, but also covered security, technology, and strong people-to-people ties.
(With agency inputs)