In a meet with China, Russia, Jaishankar says need to respect ethos of international law
In a thinly veiled dig at China against the backdrop of a tense border stand-off, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said the world’s “leading voices” should act in an exemplary manner by respecting international law and recognising the interests of partners.
Jaishankar didn’t name any countries in his remarks during his address at a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia-India-China (RIC), but there appeared to be little doubt about whom he was referring to.
He also made a strong case for a greater role for India in the decision-making of international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and in what India has been describing as a reformed multilateral world order.
Watch | ‘Need to respect international law..’: Jaishankar in a meet with China, Russia
The special RIC meeting, Jaishankar said, reiterates India’s belief in the “time-tested principles of international relations”.
“But the challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their practice. The leading voices of the world must be exemplars in every way,” he said.
“Respecting international law, recognising the legitimate interests of partners, supporting multilateralism and promoting common good are the only way of building a durable world order,” he added.
A violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15 had left 20 Indian soldiers dead – the country’s first fatalities in a confrontation along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 45 years.
In a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17, Jaishankar had said the violence and casualties were the outcomes of “premeditated and planned action” by Chinese troops aimed at changing the status quo along the LAC.
China has repeatedly sought to blame India for the tensions, saying Indian troops had crossed to the Chinese side of the LAC.
It has also claimed sovereignty over the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, though the region has been under India’s control for decades.
The RIC meeting, originally scheduled for March but put off due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, was organised at Moscow’s initiative to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War-II and the foundation of the UN.
Jaishankar referred to the shaping of the world order in the 1940s by the victors of World War-II and said the political circumstances of that era didn’t give India due recognition.
“This historical injustice has stood uncorrected for the last 75 years, even as the world has changed. Therefore…it is important for the world to realise both the contribution that India made and the need to rectify the past,” he said, noting 2.3 million Indians had fought in the war and another 14 million had participated in the war production.
International affairs, he said, must come to terms with contemporary reality. “The UN began with 50 members, today it has 193. Surely, its decision-making cannot continue to be in denial of this fact. We, the RIC countries, have been active participants in shaping the global agenda. It is India’s hope that we will also now converge on the value of reformed multilateralism,” Jaishankar said.
Besides losing its soldiers in battlefields from Tobruk, El Alamein, and Monte Cassino to Singapore, Kohima, and Borneo, India helped keep key supply lines open to Russia and China, he said.
“So tomorrow, when our military contingent marches through the Red Square, it would be an affirmation of the difference that we made,” he said, referring to an Indian contingent’s participation in the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Thursday.
Defence minister Rajath Singh is in Moscow to participate in the parade and hold meetings with Russia’s top defence leadership.