India is likely to raise terrorism issue at the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting which is going to be held on December 11 in New Delhi. In the communique to be adopted at the meeting, India is likely to push for naming Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), citing a similar move by the BRICS grouping.
Along with discussing on release of Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed from house arrest by Pakistan, the RIC foreign ministers’ meet may also see India raising a number of contentious issues involving China including its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), opposition to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and stonewalling of the move to declare JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov are also expected to hold extensive talks on finding a common ground for the three major powers on key strategic issues of the region.
In a major diplomatic victory for India, the BRICS summit had for the first time named Pakistan-based terror groups LeT, JeM and the Haqqani network in its declaration in September.
To pursue common strategic interests in the region, India will strongly push for strengthening cooperation among the three countries in effectively countering terrorism in the region and beyond.
On the South China Sea dispute, India is expected to renew its call for respecting all provisions of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and ensuring freedom of navigation in the resource-rich waters.
Connectivity is set to be a major focus area at the RIC meeting and India is likely press for speedy implementation of the 7,200 km-long International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) linking India, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia with Europe.
There is indication that New Delhi will also flag its concerns over the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project which is part of the prestigious Belt and Road Initiative. The CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Some of the contentious issues may be raised by Swaraj during her bilateral meeting with Wang. It will be the first high-level visit from China to India after the Dokalam standoff.
Relations between India and China witnessed a downturn owing to differences over a series of issues including China blocking India’s move to get Masood Azhar banned by the UN, its opposition to India’s bid for NSG membership and Belt and Road initiative.
In the RIC, India is also likely to stress on a collective approach by the three countries in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo Pacific region.
It may also allay apprehension about joining the proposed quadrilateral coalition with Japan, Australia and the US, which was seen as a move to counter China.
The RIC foreign ministers’ meeting was planned for April here but it had to be postponed as Wang could not confirm his participation due to scheduling problems.
There were media reports then that Wang had put off his visit to India to protest New Delhi’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to travel to Arunachal Pradesh. However, China had dismissed those reports.
(With inputs from PTI)