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Narendra Modi to visit Japan next month, US in September

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-06-2014 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a busy calendar in the foreign policy arena in the next six months that will see him make trips to Japan in July and to the US in September besides a visit to the kingdom of Bhutan later this month, a foreign ministry official said on Friday.

Among countries despatching their foreign ministers to New Delhi to make contact with the Modi government are China and France, Syed Akbaruddin, the foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters. China’s Wang Yi is expected in New Delhi on Sunday and France’s Laurent Fabius in the “latter half of June”, Akbaruddin said.

“The Prime Minister’s inbox relating to foreign policy is very crowded,” Akbaruddin said. “Since the announcement of the election result in May, there has been an enormous amount of interest among a variety of leaders across the globe to meet our new political leadership.”

Many multilateral events are also scheduled for the next few months where India is usually represented by its top leadership. These include a Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) meeting in Brazil, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly session in New York, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India summit, the East Asia Summit, the Group of 20 developed and developing countries meeting in Australia, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Nepal.

“There are five major important multilateral meetings that are likely to happen where India has been represented by our senior leadership and therefore those are visits that will be on the agenda of our senior leadership,” he said.

Besides these, there are more than 20 countries with which India had “a strategic partnership”, he said and interactions with all of them could also be worked out according to mutual convenience, he said.

But Modi’s first visit abroad will be to Bhutan, Akbaruddin said, adding: “India and Bhutan enjoy a special and unique relationship. It has been sustained by regular visits and extensive exchanges at the highest levels."

One of Modi’s first acts after becoming prime minister designate was to invite leaders of all other South Asian countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka—to his swearing-in ceremony. The gesture was aimed at underlining India’s commitment to building better relations with all its neighbours, people close to the development later said.

Akbaruddin said India and the US were working out dates for a bilateral “summit-level meeting” with US President Barack Obama in Washington—coinciding with Modi’s visit to the US for the UN General Assembly session.

The visit is expected to break the ice between the US and Modi, who was denied a visa in 2005 for allegedly turning a blind eye to the 2002 sectarian riots in Gujarat. Modi was chief minister of Gujarat when the riots took place. It was only on 16 May—the day on which India’s election results were announced—that the US announced it would give Modi a visa to travel to the US.

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