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Modi set to travel 60,000 km in 30 days

From London to Kuala Lumpur and back to Paris and Moscow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a series of foreign visits once the crucial Bihar elections are out of the way.

The External Affairs Ministry is gearing up for a string of high profile bilateral meetings in November and December. If all the visits being discussed fructify, Mr. Modi will clock more than 60,000 km in fewer than 30 days, possibly a record even for the well-travelled Prime Minister, who has already visited 27 countries in his tenure, some ofthem twice.

Most of the outgoing visits are now being planned. Next week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will travelto Moscow to attend the annual India-Russia Inter-governmental Commission meeting on October 20 and 21 to review defence and trade ties.

Diplomatic sources say that besides discussing defence acquisitions by India, including some localised or “made in India” projects, and more civil nuclear, space and science projects, the two sides are expected to announce the dates for Mr. Modi’s visit to Russia.

The Prime Minister is due to visit Russia in “early December,” a source said. He expressed his desire to visit Moscow and Astrakhan, a state that has old trade ties with Gujarat which he visited in 2006.

Straight after the Bihar election results on November 8 and Deepavali on November 11, the Prime Minister is expected to head to the U.K. for a three-day visit. Preparations are under way for an event to be attended by 70,000 NRIs at London’s Wembley Stadium. Diplomatic sources said the Prime Minister would travel to a second city in the U.K., which was being finalised. Leicester, Cambridge and Oxford are among the contenders, unless an invitation to the British Prime Minister’s “official retreat”, Chequers in Buckinghamshire, is finalised.

An official involved in planning the visit said: “PM Modi and PM Cameron are expected to spend a lot of time together during the visit”. From the U.K., Mr. Modi will fly to Turkey to conduct bilateral meetings and to attend the G-20 summit in Antalya on November 15 and 16. As no progress has been made in trade talks with the European Union in the past few weeks, an earlier plan to include Brussels for the EU-India summit during the trip, put off earlier this year, has again been set aside.

Within days of returning from the G-20 summit, the Prime Minister will head east, to attend the ASEAN-India summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 21 and 22. A visit to Singapore, his second this year, is being planned, along with an event for Indian expatriates there. Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was in Delhi this week to discuss arrangements.

Mr. Modi will meet many of the leaders from G-20 and ASEAN-related summits for a third time on November 30, when he flies to Paris for the COP-21 U.N. Climate Change conference, where a major declaration is expected on cutting emissions. Officials say it is not yet clear whether Mr. Modi will complete his summit in Russia on the same trip as to France, but find it “unlikely”. Either way, he will return to Delhi by mid-December, in time for the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is in Tokyo for talks to plan the visit of Mr. Shinzo to Delhi. While officials told The Hindu it “was too early” to comment on the possible outcomes, Japanese media has reported that the India-Japan nuclear deal could be announced, and officials have confirmed it is being discussed this week.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 4:23:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-set-to-travel-60000-km-in-30-days/article7766970.ece

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