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RIC meet: India, Russia, China to make strong pitch in fight against terror

India, Russia, China working on joint communiqué that could reflect ‘common ground, role’ for states in countering terrorism.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2017 23:20 IST
Jayanth Jacob
From left: Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj shake hands after a meeting in Moscow, Russia.
From left: Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj shake hands after a meeting in Moscow, Russia.(AP File Photo)

Counter-terrorism is set to get a stronger expression of intent and plan of action in the joint communiqué to be issued after the meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India China (RIC) in New Delhi on Monday.

The statement is also likely to make a more detailed mention of Asia-Pacific region and the primary role of ‘East Asia Summit’ in maintaining peace and stability and in the regional security architecture as well as reflect ‘continuing’ support of Russia and China for India becoming a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC).

Though greater emphasis on terrorism wouldn’t mean much in terms of China lifting its opposition to Indian efforts to get leaders of Pakistan-based terrorist outfits such as Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Mazood Azhar listed under United Nations Security Council Sanctions list, some experts see this as three countries finding greater common ground on fighting international terrorism.

Ahead of the meeting, officials of the three countries are working on the joint communiqué which will be vetted by the ministers before it is issued.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will host her Russian and Chinese counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi, respectively, for the 15th edition of the meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries.

Sources familiar with the developments said principal efforts are on getting a statement with a heavy accent on counter-terrorism that would reflect ‘common ground’ among the three countries have to deal with the menace in the region with bigger resolve.

The indications from the meetings are the statement would have the following: primary role and responsibility the states have in countering terrorism, stopping the cross country movement of terrorists and mentioning of Pakistan-based terror groups that target India, and early adoption of UN convention on International Terrorism.

This would help the grouping address India’s concern over Pakistan-based terrorist groups and role “Pakistani state refuses to play” in countering “non-state actors”. “Terrorism is a common concern for the three countries, so groups that are of concern to each country is a common concern when it comes to addressing terrorism,” said a source.

Experts agree to the larger sentiment on countering terrorism that can be reflected in the statement, but they doubt whether it would translate into China changing its position on Pakistan-based terrorist outfits.

Beijing consistently torpedoed Indian efforts to bring Mazood Azhar under UN Sanction list. The listed entities and individuals face asset freeze, travel ban and other measures that cripple their ability to carry out terror strikes.

“The statement can make the larger point of the three countries having greater common ground on how to deal with international terrorism. The leaders would also have a free and frank exchange on the issue that is always helpful,” said former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.

But he said this should not be taken as China changing its position. Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellany agreed with Mansingh and also questioned the relevance of the RIC, which has “become largely irrelevant, especially after the formation of BRICS”. “An RIC statement on any issue will carry little weight, but especially on terrorism, given the way China blocks UN action against Azhar and other Pakistan-based terrorists.”

The joint statement will also reflect the common approach of three countries in Asia Pacific. They would stress on the role of East Asia Summit.