December 05, 2020
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'The High Road To Peace'

'We agreed that our Foreign Secretaries will discuss what Pakistan is doing and can do to prevent terrorism from Pakistan against India and to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice including the horrendous crime of the attacks in Mumba

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'The High Road To Peace'

PM's opening remarks at the onboard press conference on his visit to Russia

I have had an intense and productive visit to Russia to participate in the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and in the first ever standalone summit meeting of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China yesterday. This has been my first visit abroad in the new term of the Government. The visit has reinforced my sense of the significance of India’s engagement with the world, particularly at this time of economic crisis and political change.

In the short time that I was in Yekaterinburg, I had also had bilateral meetings with President Hu Jintao of China, President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, President Zardari of Pakistan and President Medvedev of Russia.

As you know, India is an observer in the SCO and has primarily attended Summits at the Ministerial level. I chose to attend this Summit because of President Medvedev’s personal invitation and as the format this time provided for full participation by Observers in the restricted and plenary sessions with the other leaders. Central Asia, where the SCO is active, is part of India’s extended neighbourhood. We look forward to increased functional cooperation with the SCO.

At the BRIC Summit, we discussed the need to intensify cooperation among ourselves and discussed the international economic downturn, and how we can prepare for the forthcoming G-8 and G-20 Summits. We live in times of rapid economic change when the BRIC economies are a factor of stability and growth. India has borne the global economic crisis well, though we have not been unaffected. There was general agreement on the need to continue our coordination in BRIC on economic matters, to seek implementation of G-20 decisions of interest to developing countries, and reform of present systems of global governance and the international financial system. We have agreed that our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet, and with the help of experts, examine the further steps we should take in this regard.

In my meeting with President Hu Jintao of China, we reviewed the progress in our bilateral relations and recommitted ourselves to carrying forward the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership that we established in 2005.

President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan was our honoured guest at our Republic Day earlier this year. We both expressed satisfaction at the rapid expansion of proposals for bilateral cooperation in diverse fields including energy, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. Our Foreign Ministers will lay out a road map with timelines for implementing these proposals.

When I met President Zardari of Pakistan, we discussed India-Pakistan relations, which remain under considerable stress. The primary cause of this, as everyone knows, is the terrorist attacks against India from Pakistani territory. I conveyed to President Zardari the full extent of our expectation that the Government of Pakistan take strong and effective action to prevent the use of Pakistan’s territory for terrorist attacks against India, act against the perpetrators of past attacks and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan. The President of Pakistan told me of Pakistan’s efforts to deal with this menace and the difficulties that they face.

We agreed that our Foreign Secretaries will discuss what Pakistan is doing and can do to prevent terrorism from Pakistan against India and to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice including the horrendous crime of the attacks in Mumbai. They will report to us and we will take stock of the situation when we are at Sharm el Sheikh for the Nonaligned Summit in mid-July.

I have spoken before of my vision of a cooperative subcontinent, and of the vital interest that India and the people of the subcontinent have in peace. For this we must try again to make peace with Pakistan. It also requires effective and strong action against the enemies of peace. If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, determination and statesmanship to take the high road to peace, India will meet them more than half-way. These were the ideas and sentiments that I shared with the President of Pakistan.

With President Medvedev, I exchanged views on the unique and close strategic partnership that we enjoy with Russia. We are both looking forward to its rapid development in the future.

I return to India satisfied with the results of my visit. International developments and the economic crisis will pose fresh challenges to Indian diplomacy. I am, however, confident that we will be able to convert challenge into opportunity for India.

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