A busy week awaits the Foreign Office with three Foreign Ministers arriving in New Delhi for discussions which will cover cooperation in the civil nuclear sector and the transnational Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.
Australian Foreign Minister Robert John Carr arrived here on Saturday for the India-Australia Framework Dialogue of Foreign Ministers on Monday.
Mr. Carr and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid are expected to review the outcomes of the visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard three months ago and chart the way ahead, especially on launching negotiations for a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.
Australia has vast uranium reserves and the decision to begin talks on a cooperation agreement was one of the biggest political takeaways for India during Ms. Gillard’s visit. The Australian leader had played a pivotal role in persuading her party to reverse opposition to exporting uranium to India.
Ties with Turkmenistan
The next engagement is with the Central Asian gas giant Turkmenistan. It is the only country in the region that stays out of the Russia-China regional security and economic cooperation grids and is not in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov will hold talks with Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and meet Mr. Khurshid and Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily.
Turkmenistan has emerged as a potentially important partner in India’s quest for energy security with plans for TAPI advancing rapidly through the initial stages since the visit of its President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in 2010.
Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will arrive on Monday to co-chair with Mr. Khurshid the joint commission meeting the next day.
India is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner with bilateral trade in goods having crossed $ 5 billion last fiscal.
The two sides will discuss efforts at political reconciliation between the Sri Lankan government and Tamils, besides going through the entire checklist of India-Sri Lanka relations such as the pace of rehabilitation process, fishermen’s issue, implementation of linkages in transport and power, utilisation of the Indian line of credit and military cooperation.
Professor Peiris is expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 23.