Building international opinion on countering terrorism and isolating Pakistan was on top of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda during his meetings with world leaders including a crucial talk with President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the 11th G20 Summit in Hangzhou on Sunday.
Modi emphatically brought up the issue of terrorism “emanating from south Asia” during his bilateral meetings with Xi and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and in his speech at an informal meeting of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) leaders ahead of the G20 Summit.
But China’s official statement did not mention any of the concerns Modi raised. Instead, it said it wants to maintain the “hard-won sound relations” with India and work on deepening synergy and handling bilateral differences
In his 35-minute meeting with Xi, Modi said, “To ensure development of bilateral ties and their steady development, it is of paramount importance that we respect each other’s aspirations, concerns and strategic interests”.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – which passes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK) – was brought up during the meeting.
The mention of India’s “aspirations” would have included New Delhi’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Swarup indicated that Modi brought up China’s decision to block New Delhi from becoming a member of the group with access to sensitive nuclear technology.
But terrorism was the central theme of Modi’s talks through Sunday.
Tellingly, Modi began his meeting with Xi by extending condolences over the recent terror attack on the Chinese embassy at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan last week.
“Condemning the terrorists’ attack on the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, he said this was yet another proof of the continuous scourge of terrorism. He reiterated that our response to terrorism should not be dictated by the political considerations,” Swarup told Indian journalists.
Modi’s interventions on terrorism were “hard-hitting” during his address to the Brics leaders.
“I must emphasise how strongly the PM intervened on the issue of terrorism. He said in fact it remains the primary source of instability and the biggest threat to our society and countries,” Swarup said.
He said terrorism’s supply chains and reach are global. “The abuse of social media to promote radical ideologies is the growing dimension of this threat,” the MEA spokesperson quoted the PM as saying during the Brics meeting.
Swarup added: “He (Modi) said in very hard-hitting intervention that terrorists in south Asia or anywhere for that matter do not own banks or weapon factories. Clearly someone funds (them) and the Brics must intensify its joint efforts not just to fight terrorism but to coordinate its action to isolate those who support and sponsor terrorism.”
In a bilateral meeting with Australian PM Turnbull, Modi again talked of terror.
Modi said it was important for all democratic forces to come together to counter this challenge. He said South Asia was now suffering from the destabilising effects of terrorism.
“…even Afghanistan, Russia, China are facing the threat of terrorism emanating from our region and it is important for us to identify the suppliers, the exporters and financiers of terrorism. Otherwise the world is going to face a huge, huge problem in the coming weeks and months,” Modi said.
China focuses on bilateral ties
While Modi made his anti-terror pitch, the Chinese state media in a markedly toned down version of the bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi, quoted the President as saying, “Both sides had seen healthy, stable and speedy development of their relationship, and that as neighbours and developing countries they should continue high-level exchanges.”
The official news agency, Xinhua, did not mention any of the issues brought up by Modi during their meeting like terrorism, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or for that matter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) issue.
Instead, the official statement used the rare phrase “hard-won” sound relations to describe what Xi thinks of the bilateral ties.
It was possibly used to indicate that both countries were working hard to maintain steady ties despite differences.
The only indication that problems plaguing the relations could have been discussed was the line that Xi was quoted as saying, “China and India should respect and care for each other on issues of major concern, and handle differences in a constructive way.”
“China and India should continue dialogues at various levels and in various areas, and frequently exchange views on major issues of common interest to enhance understanding and trust,” Xi said.
The Chinese President added: “Two countries should seek synergy between their development strategies and discuss the implementation of pragmatic cooperation in large projects in infrastructure construction and production capacity.”
Modi ‘meets’ Obama
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met Barack Obama , albeit briefly, on Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China with the US president praising the “bold policy” move on GST reform in a “difficult” global economic scenario.
Modi first met Obama briefly when they were onstage to pose for a photograph at the G20 Summit venue in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. The two leaders had another opportunity to exchange views during an informal evening programme.
(With inputs from PTI)