Kolkata: India’s partnership with USA has come of age with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest three-day visit to the country in June, S Jaishankar, external affairs minister, said in Kolkata on Friday.
“I actually, truly believe that with this visit, in many ways, our partnership has come of age. I use the word partnership and not relationship. I think we had a relationship earlier. Today it is much more collaborative, mutual interest-driven and mutually respectful,” the minister said during an interaction after delivering the Shyama Prasad Lecture on ‘New India and the World’ organised by Khola Hawa, a cultural organisation.
“This visit was a completely different level. In diplomacy one easy yardstick is protocol. This was the only state visit by an Indian PM after the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit in 2009. This was also the only time that an Indian PM has addressed the joint session of the Congress twice,” he said.
To questions on Indo-Russian relation he said, “Most other major relationships – Russia-Europe, Russia-China, China-US – all of them have had ups and downs. Of the major relationships in the last 75 years, India-Russia relationship are the steadiest. That is an empirical fact,” he said.
He went on to explain that one of the reasons behind this is because of the public sentiment in India about Russia, there were partnerships which were forged in the 60s and 70s, which have their own momentum and relevance.
“For us, a lot of what we see in the Indo-Russia relationship is geopolitically driven. This is a relation which is insulated from the ups and downs of regular politics and has a certain ballast to it” he added.
The Union minister slammed China for the present downturn in the ties between the two Asian neighbours while adding that it was China’s creation.
“It is created by China by violating two agreements of 1993 and 1996 and moving forces to the Line of Actual Control in violation of those agreements. If we are to have decent relation they need to observe those agreements and stop trying to unilaterally change the status quo. They need to understand that relationships between major countries work only when they are based on mutual interest, mutual sensitivity and mutual respect,” he said.
He also said that some issues along the border have been resolved. “But it finally takes two hands to clap. China too must believe in that workable relationship if that is to happen,” he said.
Asked about India’s recent bonhomie with the US, Jaishankar said that it is not in India’s interest to be tied down to exclusive relationships.
“Because we have a tradition of strong ties with Russia, that shouldn’t become a burden or an obstacle to an equally strong relationship with the US,” Jaishankar added.
He said that India is exploring whether INR can be used for trade settlements. We are exploring with some countries. That is something which is helpful to us. I think that will take route,
“We have a strong interest in getting other countries to buy into our Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It’s a big step that Singapore has accepted it. I know of a number of important economies are looking at it. Some of our neighbours have asked how they should be linked to it,” he added.