Sushma Swaraj impresses Iranian leadership; convinces Russia, Chinese on Indo-US logistics deal
Soon after agreeing in-principle to finalise a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) with the United States for the purpose of sharing military bases, including providing facilities of refuelling and repair, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Iran and then Moscow to interact with her Russian and Chinese counterparts has proved a fine act of balance.
At the Russia, China and India tri-lateral ministerial conference on Monday, Swaraj sought active participation of countries in various activities in India. She also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the BRICS Summit, scheduled to be held in Goa in October.
The visit coming soon after the landmark Indo-US logistics exchange agreement was being described as the toughest diplomatic assignment for Swaraj, who was expected to face tough questioning from her Russian and Chinese counterparts. Both the countries are apprehensive about American military presence close to their borders. During her bilateral discussions with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Swaraj raised the issue of China blocking its bid to have Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations. Official sources said the issue was raised by Swaraj besides deliberations on a range of issues.
Last July, China had similarly halted India’s move in the UN to take action against Pakistan for its release of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Swaraj also favoured frequent meetings between the two sides to step up engagement. “We are meeting after a long gap and I think we should meet quite frequently. Because things are moving very fast in the world and if we meet frequently, we will be able to deliberate on those,” she said.
At the Conference, without referring to China, Swaraj did mention double standards of some countries while dealing with terrorism. “If we continue to adopt double standards in dealing with terrorism it will have serious consequences not just for our own countries, but the international community as a whole,” she said. She asked RIC countries to lead the way in getting the international community together to counter terrorism through joint action, including at the UN.
During her interaction with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, official sources said, Swaraj raised issues of the killing of an Indian and the death of two Indian girl students Pooja Kallur and Karishma Bhonsle, both from Maharashtra in a fire tragedy besides discussing key bilateral matters. During their meeting, Swaraj raised the issue of the killing of Yasir Javed, a businessman from Srinagar who died in Russia’s Kazan city last month following an attack on him by a group of local goons, and enquired about the progress of investigation into the case. Two girls were studying at Smolensk Medical Academy in Russia and lost their lives in a fire accident in February.
Earlier, China had hinted, it might raise the issue of Indo-US logistics exchange agreement with Indian leaders. Currently Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is also visiting Beijing. Its official media had said that India’s diplomatic manoeuvring risks dampening cooperation among the China-Russia-India triangle and the BRICS. Both Russia and China aware now awaiting wording of the agreement to actually get an idea of US logistics in the region. India is planning to sign similar pacts with 27 countries. So far, India has already signed these with Australia, Singapore and Thailand.