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Delhi reaches out, Beijing keeps it guessing on Masood Azhar listing on Wednesday

While the US role is key to shaping China’s actions, Saudi, UAE and Turkey — all are close partners of Pakistan — can play a crucial role in influencing Pakistan.

Written by Shubhajit Roy , Sowmiya Ashok | Beijing, New Delhi |
Updated: March 12, 2019 12:01:45 pm
Delhi reaches out, Beijing keeps it guessing on Masood Azhar listing on Wednesday Vikram Gokhale with Mike Pompeo in Washington. (Indian embassy)

With 48 hours to go before the United Nations Security Council 1267 sanctions committee’s deadline to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist ends, New Delhi Monday reached out to key players, including the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey to mobilise support.

While Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo in Washington, Saudi minister Adel al-Jubeir’s concluded his second trip to India in three weeks after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Modi also spoke to two foreign leaders over telephone Monday — UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, their second conversation since the Balakot air strike, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


US leads charge at UN, all eyes on China

As the March 13 deadline to raise objections to list Masood Azhar approaches, India is part of hectic parleys across world capitals. With the US leading the charge and only Beijing standing in the way, Delhi has redoubled its efforts in Washington and China, as well as with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Whether Beijing finally signs off on the listing remains to be seen.

While the US role is key to shaping China’s actions, Saudi, UAE and Turkey — all are close partners of Pakistan — can play a crucial role in influencing Pakistan. Meanwhile, Beijing said Monday on the 1267 committee that it has adopted a “responsible attitude” and that a solution was possible “only through responsible discussions”.

Adel al-Jubeir, who visited India four days after he was in Islamabad, agreed that Saudi Arabia and India should work together for “irreversible, verifiable and credible steps against all terrorists without any discrimination”. While there was no mention of Pakistan in the statement, India has been asking for verifiable and credible action by Pakistan against terrorists and terrorist groups.

Explained: How China blocked India from listing Azhar a ‘global terrorist’

In Washington DC, Foreign Secretary Gokhale met Pompeo, who expressed his understanding of India’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism. “They agreed that Pakistan needs to take concerted action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and to deny safe haven to all terrorist groups in its territory. They also agreed that those who support or abet terrorism in any form should be held accountable,” said an MEA statement.

In his phone conversation with the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Modi thanked the Crown Prince for the invitation extended to India to address the OIC Foreign Ministers’ Council as a guest of honour in Abu Dhabi earlier this month. This was an official acknowledgement of the UAE’s role in not withdrawing the invite to India, despite Pakistan’s pleas. Modi expressed the hope that this “historical participation would contribute to attaining the common objectives of peace and progress” according to an MEA statement.

The MEA said Erdogan expressed condolences for the victims of recent terrorist attacks in India and wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the attacks. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that terrorism remains one of the gravest threats to global peace and security. He underscored the importance of immediate, demonstrable, and irreversible action against terrorism by all concerned countries,” said another statement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang Monday said China adopted a “responsible attitude” and followed the “rules and procedures” of the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions committee. “China’s position on the designation of a terrorist by the 1267 committee is consistent and clear. China adopted responsible attitudes, follows rules and procedures of this committee and participates in these discussions in a responsible manner,” he said. “Only through responsible discussions can we come up with a responsible solution.”

At a Chinese Foreign Ministry press conference in Beijing, Lu was asked if Azhar’s listing at the UNSC was discussed amid the tension between India and Pakistan. “China has engaged in mediation efforts on both sides and helped talks to promote easing of tensions and made enormous efforts. While exchanging ideas, security is an important topic, and I can say that our talks were wide-ranging and quite deep,” he said.

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