Away from the spotlight, India holds conference of global intelligence chiefs

The Raisina Security Dialogue, which saw the participation of intelligence and security chiefs from over 26 countries this year, is modelled on the lines of the Munich Security Conference and Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue

March 05, 2023 09:04 pm | Updated March 06, 2023 08:30 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the inauguration of Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the inauguration of Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, India, March 2, 2023. | Photo Credit: India’s Ministry of External Affairs/Handout via Reuters

Amid the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and ahead of the Raisina Dialogue, India quietly held the second conference of intelligence and security chiefs and top officials from around the world, called the Raisina Security Dialogue, on March 1 which saw participation from over 26 countries, confirmed multiple sources. 

“India is trying to make its presence felt in bringing together global intelligence agencies for exchanges on issues of common concern. The focus of the discussions was largely on global security which encompassed counterterrorism, radicalisation, drug trafficking, and illegal arms smuggling, among others,” an official source with knowledge of the matter said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval addressed the conference, sources said, which is modelled on the lines of the Munich Security Conference, the 59th edition of which took place from February 17 to 19, 2023, and Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue.

It was a broad-based discussion and shows the global confidence in India, said an official from one of the participating countries. While the U.S. was absent, intelligence chiefs from the U.K., France, Japan and Bahrain were among those present, the source stated.

Sources said that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director William Burns was in India two weeks earlier from February 16 to 17. He also travelled to Sri Lanka recently, sources stated.

Mr. Burns who had missed the conference in April 2022 as well, last visited New Delhi in September 2021, to discuss the challenges arising from the Taliban takeover of Kabul which also coincided with the visit of the Russian Security Council chief General Nikolai Patrushev. 

The security conference is organised by the country’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) that reports to Mr. Doval.

The conference was held for the first time in April 2022, a day before the start of Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship conference on “geopolitics and geo-strategy” organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in collaboration with Observer Research Foundation (ORF). The eighth edition this year was held from March 2-4.

The conference comes a year after the war in Ukraine that is still ongoing and the global attention fixed on it, while India has been flagging other global issues including Afghanistan. Deep differences over Ukraine between the U.S.-led Western countries and the Russia-China combine thwarted India’s attempts to bring out a joint statement at the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last week with New Delhi issuing a Chair’s summary and an outcome document. 

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