Follow up on peace moves with neighbours: President

The government must “follow through” on initiatives made in the neighbourhood, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday while addressing India’s foreign service. Saying PM Modi’s decision to invite the >SAARC leadership for his swearing-in had “demonstrated dynamism and bold leadership”, the President said it must be “followed through to its logical conclusion through incisive diplomacy”. Without naming tensions with Pakistan and China, President Mukherjee also told the envoys at the Heads of Mission conference that “a strong message was conveyed to our neighbours that the region must decide whether to live in perpetual tension or understanding”.

Significantly, the President stressed more than once on the need to go ahead with diplomacy in the neighbourhood. “Our initiatives in the neighbourhood must be followed up with concrete steps to consolidate and make permanent the advances we make in our relations,” he added. The President’s speech is seen as a direct signal urging the government to resume dialogue initiatives with Pakistan, while also urging it to keep its promises with regards to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Despite a commitment to clear the Land boundary agreement with Bangladesh in Parliament’s winter session, the government had not been able to bring it to vote because of repeated disruptions in Parliament by the Opposition, and officials say it will now come up in the Budget session this month.

Commending the government for “vigour and dynamism" in India’s foreign policy, President Mukherjee called U.S. President Barack Obama's Republic Day visit one of "substantive importance and not just symbolic". We also had visits by President Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China recently. The Prime Minister has been personally reaching out to the Indian diaspora, a statement issued by the President's Office cited him saying, while he also focused on global terrorism as the most important challenge to be addressed.

Recollecting his own experience as External Affairs Minister, the President told the envoys that having worked with many generations of Foreign Service officers he was aware that the job of a Head of Mission is not easy.  He recalled the role played by Missions during evacuation of Indian citizens from foreign countries affected by war and turmoil and pointed out that Indian Missions have extended assistance to even people from neighbouring countries on such occasions.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 9:53:00 PM |

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