A three-day conclave involving about 120 Indian envoys posted abroad began in New Delhi on Monday with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna outlining the country's strategy in dealing with key foreign policy challenges, ranging from terrorism and climate change to global meltdown and soft power projection.
Enunciating the traditional values of India's foreign policy, Krishna set the tone by exhorting diplomats to sharpen their skills in dealing with emerging challenges like climate change, the global financial meltdown and multilateral trade negotiations, said official sources.
He also spoke about giving a fresh impetus to improving India's relations with neighbours and sustaining momentum in ties with major powers like the US, Russia and the European Union, the sources said.
National Security Adviser MK Narayanan stressed on India's security strategy, its nuclear posture and a multi-pronged approach to dealing with global terrorism, including linkages with cross-border terror, a festering issue that bedevils India's ties with Pakistan.
The conference of the Indian heads of missions abroad is a closed-door meeting, the first such exercise after the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition returned to power in May.
The last such conclave was held here in December last year against the backdrop of India's diplomatic offensive soon after the 26/11 Mumbai carnage.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to interact with the envoys Tuesday.
Manmohan Singh is likely to explain to diplomats his reasons for embarking on a "trust but verify" policy vis-a-vis Pakistan and address their concerns over the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement.
The July 16 joint statement, which delinks actions on terror by Pakistan from the composite dialogue process and includes the first-ever reference to Balochistan in a bilateral document, has not gone down well with sections of India's foreign office.
The conference this year has a wider canvas and includes special sessions on soft power projection, climate change, economic diplomacy and WTO negotiations. Interactions with leading think tanks like the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) have also been arranged.
A host of cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Minister of Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor will address the envoys over the next two days.
The reorganisation and expansion of the Indian foreign office and issues relating to housekeeping will also figure prominently in the discussions.