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Two SMs and the elusive personal chemistry

SM Krishna's visit to Pakistan was his 33rd trip to a foreign country as the External Affairs Minister. Among the 27 countries Krishna has visited since June last year, this Pakistan trip was the most challenging. Jayanth Jacob reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2010 23:35 IST
Jayanth Jacob

SM Krishna's visit to Pakistan was his 33rd trip to a foreign country as the External Affairs Minister.

Among the 27 countries Krishna has visited since June last year, this Pakistan trip was the most challenging.

Unlike with many of his colleagues around the world, Krishna is yet to develop a personal rapport with Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, with whom he shares his initials - SM.

The one-on-one informal chat between the two on the day of Krishna's arrival lasted just fifteen minutes.

The two sides met at the delegation level for some two hours on Day One, then from 11 am to 4.30 pm, and again from 6 pm to 8 pm on June 15.

"Considering the immense complexities involved in the relationship, the minister has to be business-like. Also they haven't met often enough to develop a personal rapport," an official said.

But in diplomacy, personal chemistry plays an important role - and Krishna has it in ample amounts with many of his colleagues.

Krishna had a personal touch in his dealings with Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who knows the minister's mother tongue Kannada. When Mottaki came to New Delhi last November, a South Indian spread - including masala dosa and idli - was served for him.

David Miliband, former UK counterpart of Krishna, could talk about tennis - a game Krishna is fond of.

A diplomat also recalled that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Krishna a pair of platinum cuff-links when he was in the USA for the opening edition of strategic dialogue.

"Krishna is one of the few Indian leaders who wears a cuff-link and that, too, in style. And this gift was personal and indicated their rapport," he said.