Message delivered: On Biarritz G7 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s twin missions as a special invitee to the G7 summit in France over the weekend was to address the world’s seven most advanced economies on Climate Change and Digital Transformation, but it was his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump that wound up taking centre-stage. Mr. Modi took the initiative to clear the air about Jammu and Kashmir. This was necessitated by the repeated references that Mr. Trump has made about U.S. mediation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, as well as a briefing by a senior administration official last week, who said that Mr. Trump would “want to hear from Prime Minister Modi on how he plans to reduce regional tensions and uphold respect for human rights in Kashmir”. Both U.S. statements run counter to the Indian position that the withdrawal of special status to J&K under the Constitution is an “internal matter”, and the issue of Kashmir will be resolved bilaterally with Pakistan. In the event, Mr. Modi appeared to have driven the message home, and Mr. Trump backed away from both statements. The two leaders also appeared to have made some headway on deadlocked trade talks between India and the U.S., and have decided that their trade representatives, USTR Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, will meet ahead of the Modi visit to the U.S. in September.

The interaction between Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump appeared to be in line with the broader themes that characterised this year’s G7 summit, where bilateral meetings appeared a little more successful than the multilateral meeting itself. As host, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to invite Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, but the other G7 members rejected any suggestion to include him in their conclave to discuss the future of the JCPOA nuclear deal. Mr. Trump’s push to invite Russia back into the club (it was called the G-8 until Russia was suspended in 2014), which represents more than half the world’s wealth also came a cropper as the other members did not agree to Russian President Putin’s re-entry. As one of nine special guests invited to address various sessions, Mr. Modi spoke on how India is keeping its climate change commitments, but it was a session where Mr. Trump, whose presence was vital given the U.S.’s walkout from the Paris accord, didn’t make an appearance. G7 members also discussed the Amazon fire crisis and pledged over $20 million to Brazil, but were rebuffed after a spat broke out between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Mr. Macron. It came as no surprise that the summit ended as it did: for the first time in the grouping’s 44-year old history, there was no joint communiqué.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 1:50:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/message-delivered/article29282081.ece

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