SOURCE : CNN-News18
India is getting ready to host the 15th RIC (Russia, India, China) foreign ministerial meeting next week. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov will also be holding bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines.
While, India is projecting the meeting as one that reflects its ‘strategic autonomy’, the perception that the RIC engagement also became necessary after talks of containing China through the ‘Quad’ between India, Japan, US and Australia is also apparent.
Last month, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit and East Asia Summit in Manila, diplomats of the four countries revived the decade old idea of a quadrilateral, largely to take on China. The growing aggression of China in the region and more specifically in the Indo-Pacific has got India, Japan, Australia and US together. though the grouping did not issue any joint statement and continued to stress that it is not an exercise at targeting China.
The US issued a statement saying the grouping discussed “their shared vision for increased prosperity and security in a free and open Indo-Pacific region”. A day later, the Chinese foreign ministry warned that the Quad should not target a third party.
With the RIC meeting on 11th December in New Delhi, India believes it will send out a message that while it is part of the Quad it does not mean it will neglect the other fora that it is part of and will continue to engage with various countries on different platforms in its interest. CNN-News18 has also learnt that New Delhi wants to convey a message to Beijing that both sides should set a forward looking agenda after Doklam.
There is also a clear message for Russia. New Delhi’s growing proximity to the US and Russia’s perceived inclination towards Pakistan of late has seen the two cold war allies appear to be in different zones. India wants to allay Russia’s concerns as well. In a glimpse of what will be communicated to Sergey Lavrov, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs Vijay Gokhale said yesterday at a think tank that there was need to nurture and foster the special and privileged strategic partnership amidst the fast unfolding global changes.
Issues like terrorism and Masood Azhar, regional connectivity and India’s NSG bid are all expected to come up for discussion. News 18 has learnt that India is prepared for some amount of jostling on tricky subjects especially where China has shown no change of position – like designating Masood Azhar a UN proscribed terrorist and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But India is prepared to put it points firmly again. A joint communique will be issued after the one and a half hour meeting and working lunch.