The intersection of the domestic environment for national development and the state of health of our neighbourhood relationships has never been as sharply defined as it is today, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here on Friday.

“How do we align our foreign policy objectives with the country's fundamental security and development priorities? How do we combine a firm commitment to our core national values with dynamic, flexible adaptation to changes in the international environment? How do we ensure that our periphery remains peaceful and free from tension so that our economy can grow even more rapidly? How do we deal with the threats of transnational terrorism, especially that which emanates in our close neighbourhood? How can the Ministry of External Affairs best adjust [itself] to the exponential increase in demands on its expertise, experience, time and resources?” she asked over 100 Indian ambassadors, in her speech at the third conference of heads of missions.

Ms. Rao said the debate on the nuclear liability Bill, the targets set for electricity generation from nuclear energy, and the steady expansion of dialogue with key partners on cooperation in nuclear energy had shown how foreign policy and domestic priorities were exceptionally intertwined, indicating that the Foreign Office's work was increasingly interconnected with that of other government departments.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram shared his thoughts on India's security environment and challenges with the heads of missions. He also spoke about the multipronged strategy his Ministry adopted to counter the challenges.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon addressed the envoys and responded to a number of questions.

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