Scenic Goa is set to host its biggest diplomatic jamboree since 1983 from Saturday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the leaders of 10 countries in different formats: A summit of five emerging economies, an outreach of Bay of Bengal grouping and bilateral meetings.
The meetings will have the over-riding theme of countering the threat of terrorism with the summit taking place within weeks of the deadly attack on an Indian Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri by Pakistan-based militants killed 19 soldiers — mostly sleeping in their barracks.
India has launched a diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan since then.
It would be a busy Saturday as PM Modi would host Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 17th annual summit and China’s President Xi Jinping for their eighth meeting since the NDA government came to power.
Xi is arriving in India via Bangladesh after offering $24 billion to that country - Dhaka’s biggest foreign credit line to date. This was also the first Chinese presidential visit to Bangladesh, a close ally of India, in the past 30 years.
The annual India-Russia summit on Saturday will see a pact on the delivery of advanced air defence system , a framework agreement for two new nuclear reactors at Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam and measures to step up investment flows with a greater accent on Make in India flagship.
The S-400 is Russia’s most modern air defence system and has been deployed to Syria. It can track some 300 targets and shoot down around three dozen simultaneously over a range of several hundred kilometres.
The two sides are also giving final touches to the final pact for the production of 200 Kamov 226T helicopters under the Make in India initiative. These helicopters are set to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers used by the Indian armed forces.
Modi and Xi will discuss bilateral ties that are under strain over Beijing opposing India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - a 48-member elite club that controls global nuclear trade - and blocking efforts to get Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar declared a terrorist by the United Nations.
While Modi would seek Xi’s cooperation in ironing out the recent irritants in ties, the focus would be on increasing Chinese investment from $2 billion now to $20 billion by 2019, government sources said.
The two are also expected to discuss ways to ensure peace on the Line of Actual Control by avoiding incursions from either side, a constant source of nuisance in their ties.
BRICS summit will begin with the customary dinner of the leaders on Saturday evening and the summit will be on Sunday. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) leaders will have an outreach meeting with those from BRICS on Sunday.
From BRICS summits in the Russian cities of Yekaterinburg in 2009 and Ufa in 2014 to Goa, Indian diplomatic focus has been and will be the strained ties with Pakistan, a neighbour New Delhi accuses of pursuing terrorism as a state policy and sheltering militants.
This time around, Modi is likely to stress the need for countries to deny sanctuaries to terrorists and take a relook at the way the UN designates terrorists during bilateral meetings, sources said.
BRICS will focus on improving the trade within the grouping, which is accounts for just 5% of their total trade, hammering out a comprehensive counter-terrorism plan, greater cooperation in the fields of agriculture, sports and people to people ties.
Last time Goa, a permanent venue for an international film festival, hosted a diplomatic event of this scale was when the leaders of Commonwealth countries gathered for a retreat in 1983.