US Secretary of State John Kerry, who became the first leader to call up new External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, has conveyed to her that the US looked forward to “re-energise ties” with India.
The minister also got calls from her counterparts in the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and UAE. Kerry, who called Swaraj late Wednesday night, congratulated her and sources described the conversation as “warm and cordial”. She thanked him and emphasised that India placed “importance on its strategic partnership with the US”.
Sources said that they discussed the prospects of enhancing bilateral trade and economic ties and hoped that they could raise it to $ 500 billion from the current $ 100 billion. She also briefed Kerry about the meetings that Prime Minister Narendra Modi held with various South Asian neighbours, including with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, recently. Both looked forward to a meeting which would be worked out through diplomatic channels.
UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, in his phone call, said that his country sees that there are “tremendous opportunities to deepen cooperation” and looked forward to working with the new minister. She thanked him and briefed him about the meetings with SAARC leaders and the good ties that Prime Minister had with each of these leaders. They both agreed to work out mutually convenient dates for meeting.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop discussed the scope for widening bilateral trade and economic ties as well as civil nuclear cooperation. Sources said they also discussed cooperation in fora such as IORA and G-20.
Swaraj also invited Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who called Thursday morning, to visit India for the next strategic dialogue. Both leaders emphasized on the need to build this relationship further. Baird underlined PM Stephen Harper’s commitment to the India-Canada partnership. They also spoke of making efforts to speed up current dialogues to develop the trade and investment relationship, sources said.
Foreign Minister of Israel Avigdor Liberman congratulated Swaraj on her assumption of office and invited her to visit Israel. She has accepted the invitation in principle, sources said.
South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane called Swaraj from Algiers, where she is attending a meeting, to congratulate her. Swaraj thanked her and in turn congratulated her on her re-appointment as Foreign Minister following the elections in South Africa. Swaraj said that South Africa and India share unique bonds which are nurtured and bound by a common legacy of struggle for freedom from colonialism and oppression.
Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called to congratulate her in the afternoon on assuming office and invited her to visit Abu Dhabi at an early date. She thanked him for the gracious gesture and indicated that she would be glad to visit UAE.