Hangzhou: Prime Minister had three very important interactions today. The first one was his meeting with President Xi Jinping of China.
Significantly, the first leader President Xi met today was the Indian Prime Minister. After that the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the BRICS leaders. India is the current chair of the BRICS and will be hosting the next BRICS Summit in Goa, hence from that point of view, it was important for Prime Minister to have informal discussions with the other BRICS leaders on what are their priorities, how they see the evolution of BRICS and what they can bring to the table when India conducts the BRICS Summit in Goa.
Prime Minister also had a very useful and productive meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, Chinese President Xi remarked, this was his eighth meeting with Prime Minister Modi, who began by condemning the terrorist attack on the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek. He said that it was yet another proof of the continuing scourge of terrorism. He reiterated that our response to terrorism must not be motivated by political considerations.
The Prime Minister complimented President Xi for the excellent arrangements made for the G20 Summit and expressed the confidence that it will be very successful.
Turning to bilateral relations, Modi said that he has always maintained that in order to make the Asian Century a reality, the countries of Asia would have to take responsibility.
In the context of India and China, the Prime Minister said that our people also have the expectation that we make every possible effort to fulfil their dreams of progress, development and prosperity. He further said that he had always had a strategic vision for India-China relations. The India-China partnership is important not only for the two countries, but for the entire region and the world.
Prime Minister said that, as a matter of principle, both countries would have to be sensitive to each other’s strategic interests. In order to promote positive convergences we would also need to prevent the growth of negative perceptions. For this, the specific actions by both countries would play a major role. India has worked, he said, to make progress in the Closer Developmental Partnership with China. In particular, he highlighted, we have succeeded in maintaining peace and tranquility on the border. Cultural and people to people ties have also been increasing.
Prime Minister said that to ensure durable bilateral ties and their steady development, it is of paramount importance that we respect each other’s aspirations, concerns and strategic interests.
Finally, turning to the BRICS Summit, Prime Minister extended a personal invitation to President Xi to come to Goa, to which the President said he was very happy to accept.
Today, Modi also met Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull. This was their second meeting. Last time also they had met at the G20 Summit in Antalya.
Modi began by congratulating Turnbull on his election victory. He said that India-Australia relations are full of energy. In particular, he said that implementation of mutually agreed projects and programs have been considerably speeded up under Prime Minister Turnbull’s guidance.
He also thanked Prime Minister Turnbull for Australia’s pro-active support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Prime Minister Turnbull said that Australia continues to support India’s inclusion in NSG.
The two leaders also discussed the possibilities of enhancing trade and investment ties between India and Australia. In the context of trade, both sides felt that there was not enough two-way trade and much more could be done. In this context, they felt that if the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and Australia could be speeded up, it would certainly provide much greater momentum to India-Australia ties.
In terms of investment, Prime Minister sought support of Prime Minister Turnbull’s support in encouraging the Australian Pension Funds to invest in India. He said our Finance Minister has recently gone to Australia at which time an “Invest in India” Round Table had been organized and he outlined some of the major opportunities coming up in India particularly in the infrastructure sector. He also said that India is a land of immense opportunities and Australian Pension Funds would find worthy investment options to invest in India in a big way.
Both Prime Ministers also discussed defense and security cooperation. In this context, both sides positively assessed the recently held naval exercises between the two sides and agreed to remain in touch.
Prime Minister then sought Prime Minister Turnbull’s support for clean-coal technology. He said that because of India’s clean energy targets, it is important for us to adopt as much clean-coal technology as possible and this is an area in which Australia has proven expertise whether it is underground mining or other forms of mining and to the extent that Australian companies can provide us those technologies, it would be a win-win partnership.
He also assessed positively the Australia-India Strategic Fund. Last time, when he had Prime Minister Turnbull, he had said that this had led to very good research in the area of fortified bananas and this time also he said that we could use it for joint research in clean-coal, clean-water and nanotechnology.
The two leaders then discussed the continuing scourge of terrorism. Prime Minister said that it is important for all democratic forces to come together to counter this challenge. Our neighborhood in particular, he said, was suffering greatly from the de-stabilizing effects of cross-border terrorism. A number of countries – he mentioned in this context, even Afghanistan, Russia, and China – they were all facing the terrorist threat emanating from our region and it was important for us to identify the suppliers, the exporters and the financiers of terrorism, otherwise the world was going to face a huge challenge in the coming time. His overall message was that we need a unified approach in countering terrorism.
Turnbull said that Australia would also welcome State Chief Ministers from India visiting Australia. The province to province partnership is an important indicator of the strength of India-Australia ties. Prime Minister reciprocated by saying that when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat a number of Premiers from Australian states had visited him and that had led to very positive synergies in terms of a closer partnership between Gujarat and those states. He said that this is something we should work on. Prime Minister Turnbull has been invited by Prime Minister Modi to visit India and we expect the visit to happen sometime next year. And at that time Prime Minister said that he could think of having a Forum of provincial leaders and city Mayors in partnership with the Australian delegation.
Prime Minister then turned to Australian expertise in sports, I think this was in the context of the Rio Olympics. Prime Minister said that he was very keen that we should benefit from the guidance and expertise of the world’s best sports administrators and coaches and countries which have acquired excellence in sports. Their partnership with India would be very crucial. Australia, in particular, he singled out as a country of just 25 million people which has achieved excellence in sports. As such it could be a very important partner for India.
Finally, he spoke on cooperation in education. Prime Minister said that there were 70,000 Indian students in Australia and we should seek ways of further intensifying our academic and student exchanges. Prime Minister Turnbull also welcomed this and said that this was something he was also very keen on.
The two leaders also discussed Australia’s participation in the International Solar Alliance. Prime Minister Turnbull said that Australia was very keen on solar energy. This was a great initiative by Prime Minister Modi and Australia looks forward to working with India as part of the International Solar Alliance.
He also said that the International Day of Yoga was another great initiative. Prime Minister Modi complimented him on the message that he had sent on the occasion of the Second International Day of Yoga, which he said, had almost gone viral. Prime Minister Turnbull said that, in fact, his wife is very keen to participate in yoga activities and hopefully that will happen in the future.
Prime Minister’s interventions at the BRICS Leaders Summit.
The customary meeting of BRICS leaders is an informal meeting that takes place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. The meeting was held today morning that lasted for little under an hour and half.
This meeting was among the two Summit level engagements of BRICS leaders. Prime Minister Modi in his capacity as BRICS Chairperson, Chaired its proceedings.
This meeting was significant in the context that one of the BRICS countries is hosting the G20 Summit this year. This has happened once in the past when one of the BRICS member country, the Russian Federation hosted the G20 Summit. This occasion was also in the context that in a month’s time BRICS leaders will gather for the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa.
There was lots of convergence in what leaders discussed at the meeting.
Among the leaders, Chinese President spoke of the rise of emerging markets and he termed BRICS as a champion of this phenomenon. Prime Minister Modi said that BRICS is an influential voice in international discourse.
The leaders broadly touched upon the G20 agenda. There was convergence between the G20 and BRICS agendas in the meeting. BRICS Leaders briefly touched upon issues of global political and security significance. They deliberated ongoing deliberations in G20 such as SDGs, energy, corruption. They also looked forward to the exchange of views at the Goa BRICS Summit.
Prime Minister Modi welcomed President Temer of Brazil to the BRICS family. This was the first time that President Temer was interacting and participating in BRICS proceedings. He was welcomed to the family and leaders looked forward to positive contributions on a range of issues from Brazil.
Prime Minister Modi refereed to India’s core theme for BRICS this year of looking for collective solutions. He highlighted a set of issues like possibilities of collaborations for collective action on terrorism and development. He specifically mentioned Paris Climate Agreement, corruption and reform in the institution of global governance and energy issues. Prime Minister recalled some of the key initiatives that he has proposed at the BRICS deliberations such as BRICS credit rating agency, collaborations in the fields of agriculture and railways, and setting up of BRICS Sports Council.
There was convergence of views with regard to setting up of BRICS Credit Rating Agency. There was vocal support for this from South Africa and the Chinese side was optimistic on a market based credit rating agency.
The urgent need for collaboration and cooperation on counter terrorism also featured prominently in leader’s interventions.
Prime Minister Modi intervened on the issue of terrorism. He said that it remains the primary source of instability and the biggest threat to societies and countries. He said its supply chain and reach are global. The use of social media to promote radical ideologies is a growing dimension of this threat.
In a very hard hitting intervention he said that the terrorists in South Asia or anywhere for that matter do not own banks or weapons factories. Clearly someone funds and arms them and BRICS must intensify its joint efforts, not just to fight terror but to coordinate actions to isolate those who are supporters and sponsors of terror.
Media briefing in Hangzhou Official Spokesperson Vikas Swarup and Alok Dimri, JS (MER- Multilateral Economic Relations).