With an eye on China and Pakistan, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday talked to his German interlocutors about the multiple challenges India is facing due to the pandemic, “tensions on our northern border” and the “ever-present menace of terrorism on our western border”, sources said on Monday. Shringla, who is on a visit to Germany as part of his Europe tour, discussed the standoff along the India-China Line of Actual Control, it is learnt.
In Berlin, he met German Federal Foreign Office’s minister of state Niels Annen on Monday and Jan Hecker, the Foreign and Security Policy Advisor to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two sides, it is learnt, had a conversation on the Indo-Pacific where Chinese aggression has been evident in the recent months. According to sources, he told German officials, “We are happy to note that Germany’s Indo-Pacific guidelines recognise the need for Germany to diversify its supply chains as India and Germany have a clear convergence of interest in this area.” On the strategic plane, he is learnt to have said, “We have common interests with Europe and Germany in terms of combatting terrorism and extremism, ensuring climate action and supporting multilateralism with a view to strengthening a rules-based order.”
Recalling the terror attacks in France, he is learnt to have said, “My visit to Europe at the time of the pandemic is also at a time when we witness manifestation of radicalism and extremism in Europe”. He had visited France earlier, and is headed to the UK now.
“We are all stunned by the recent tragic terror attacks in France and threat to our common democratic values and freedom of expression,” a source quoted him as saying. “Unfortunately the terrorists are united in purpose and action while we the victims are yet to be so. Ironically some countries who are the fountainhead of terror are practising dissimulation and claiming to be victims of terror to gain international sympathy. We should be aware of these moves and learn to call a spade a spade,” he told officials in Berlin, according to sources.
According to sources, in an interaction with German think tanks, he took a swipe at Beijing and said, “Threats to nation states and sovereignty can also come in other forms. The world is increasingly witnessing debt trap diplomacy in the garb of improving infrastructure and connectivity without heeding financial viability or environmental concerns. While there is no doubt that connectivity among nations needs to be improved, we have to be cautious about the terms of engagement.” This is in context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which New Delhi has opposed.
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