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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Modi pledges to pursue stronger foreign policy

NEW DELHI: India’s new nationalist government has promised to pursue a more muscular foreign policy and “engage energetically” with China as Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to host Beijing’s top diplomat.

In a keynote speech before parliament yesterday that was written by Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee said India wanted peaceful and friendly relations with all countries but would not “shy away” from confrontation when necessary.

He also said that Modi’s newly-elected government was “committed to building a strong, self-reliant and self-confident India” that wanted to take its “rightful place in the comity of nations”.

Modi, whose right-wing Bha­ratiya Janata Party ousted the ruling Congress party last month after a landslide election victory, has long argued that India has been punching below its weight on the world stage and lost ground to its nuclear-armed rival and neighbour China.

After promising to shore up relations with other South Asian countries that have forged closer ties to Beijing during the last decade of Congress rule, Mukherjee singled out China for mention in his speech.

“My government will engage energetically with other neighbours in our region, including China, with whom we will work to further develop our Strategic and Cooperative Partnership,” he said.

Modi is due to hold talks later in the day with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who also held talks with his Indian counterpart on Sunday.

India described the talks between Wang and Sushma Swaraj as a “productive and substantive” step towards stronger relations between the neighbours, whose ties have long been frosty over a border dispute in the Himalayas.

“In our view, this is a productive beginning between the new government of India and the Chinese government,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. — AFP

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