Friday, Oct 31, 2014

For Narendra Modi, first BRICS trip a success

brics-summit Leaders of the BRICS and South American nations pose for a group photo. (Source: AP)
Written by Vaidyanathan Iyer | Brasilia | Posted: July 17, 2014 12:35 am | Updated: July 17, 2014 9:50 am

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his first major multilateral visit to a foreign country on Wednesday, having separately met China President Xi Jinping, Russia President Vladimir Putin, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma over the last two days in Fortaleza and Brasilia.

In a breakthrough at the Sixth BRICS Summit, India got the presidency of the New Development Bank — the name that Modi endorsed in his departure statement in Delhi — that was launched with an initial capital of $50 billion on Tuesday after the leaders signed the Fortaleza Declaration. While China walked away with the bank’s headquarters, which will be located in Shanghai, New Delhi got Beijing to agree on equal shareholding rights for all members.

As she headed into last minute negotiations on Tuesday, Minister of State for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman told The Indian Express that India was particular that BRICS countries should have equal shareholding rights in the new bank. India pitched hard for the presidency, and deft negotiations ensured South Africa and Brazil backed India’s bid. Sources said Modi’s body language was confident. “His handshakes are firm,” said a government official. After his bilateral meeting with Putin, which was immediately followed by the signing of the Fortaleza Declaration, a beaming Modi walked out of the convention centre, seeming satisfied at the outcome of the Summit.

Many of his ideas, like the one on a BRICS University, found mention in the declaration. The declaration specifically mentioned that China and Russia reiterated the importance they attach to Brazil, India and South Africa’s status and role in international affairs and support their aspirations to play a greater role in the UN.

During his meeting with Putin, Modi appreciated the clarity with which the Russian President spoke on UN reforms. Putin is expected in Delhi for the annual summit in December. Modi has asked him to extend his stay so that he can visit some nuclear construction site also.

Meanwhile, in a surprise gesture, Rousseff received Modi with full military honours at the Presidential Palace before their breakfast meeting on Wednesday. “This is a special gesture since this was not a bilateral visit,” said a government official. Modi thanked Rousseff for arranging a meeting of BRICS leaders with their South American counterparts, and praised her for the historic summit, given its outcomes.

Sources said Modi prepared well for every meeting. Ahead of his bilateral meeting with the Chinese President, he read up on Xi’s experiences before he took the high office. “Such preparation helps break the ice,” said an official. With Putin, the PM referred to his visit to Ahmedabad’s sister city Astrakhan in Russia earlier.

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