Underlining “we can speak to China eye-to-eye”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he conveyed “India’s interests” to President Xi Jinping when they met in Tashkent last week.
He told Times Now that the government has begun a coordinated effort for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and “the process has begun on a positive note… everything has rules and will work accordingly and move forward”.
In Seoul last week, China and a group of seven countries blocked consensus on NSG membership for India despite Modi’s meeting with Xi.
Asked whether he will be able to change the Chinese view on India’s entry to NSG, Modi said, “See, foreign policy is not about changing mindsets. Foreign policy is about finding common meeting points. Where do our interests converge and how much? We have to sit and talk with every country. It’s our ongoing effort.”
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He also said that because of his trip to the US and the “hype” around it, the government had come under criticism over the NSG issue.
“It is true that my trip to the United States of America, my speech in their Congress and the respect shown towards India created a lot of hype. Had it not been hyped so much, there would not have been so much criticism on the NSG issue. Government is being criticised not for any mishandling of the NSG issue but because we were so successful over there (in the US),” he said.
He pointed out that the previous government had also made an effort and his government was doing it in “continuity”.
“Every government has made an effort. It’s not that only this government is trying, it’s in continuity. But it’s during our tenure that we achieved SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) membership, we also got the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) membership.”
He said the government has an ongoing dialogue with China. “We don’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China. Slowly and steadily, an effort is on to address these issues through talks and make them less cumbersome. I can say that China has been cooperating with India to search for solutions. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for them. On some issues, it’s a question of principles for us. On some issues, they differ with us and there are issues on which we differ with them. There are some basic differences.”
On his engagement with Pakistan, he indicated that his government will talk to the elected government in Pakistan and not to “other actors”.
“First thing is that with Pakistan, to whom do we talk to decide about the ‘Lakshman Rekha’. Will it be with the elected government or with other actors? That is why India will have to be on alert all the time. India will have to be alert every moment. There can never be any laxity in this,” he said.
On the outcome of his efforts including his visit to Lahore and invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister to come to India, he said, “Now I don’t have to explain to the world about India’s position. The world is unanimously appreciating India’s position. And the world is seeing that Pakistan is finding it difficult to respond. If we had become an obstacle, then we would have had to explain to the world that we are not that obstacle. Now we don’t have to explain to the world. The world knows our intentions.”
He then gave the example of the issue of terrorism. “Like on the issue of terrorism, the world never bought India’s theory on terrorism. They would sometime dismiss it by saying that it’s your law and order problem. Today, the world has to accept what India has been saying about terrorism. India’s dialogue on terrorism, the losses India has suffered due to terrorism, the losses suffered by humanity, the world is now acknowledging that. So I believe we have to take this process forward.”
“India has always wanted friendly ties with its neighbours, there can be no debate around it. We want to live in harmony and peace. And I have said it repeatedly that India has to fight poverty, Pakistan too has to fight poverty, why don’t we come together to fight poverty? I said this before elections and during election campaigns. Also, I had invited leaders of SAARC nations to my swearing-in ceremony and they had attended it as well. So there has been no change in our intent, our thoughts and our current behaviour.”
Referring to the Pampore attack in which eight CRPF men were killed, he said: “Those who have to work from the table, will work from the table and those who have to work at the border, will work at the border with full strength. Each one will fulfil the responsibility entrusted to them. And our jawans are fulfilling their responsibilities. It’s true that pressure on terrorists has increased, their schemes are proving unsuccessful. The intent with which they move forward are foiled and they have to face major challenges. It is because of this disappointment that such incidents are taking place and our jawans are risking their lives and protecting the country. We are very proud of our jawans.”