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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

India starts to reach out, Jaishankar speaks to counterpart in France

Jaishankar’s call to the French foreign minister indicated that India has started briefing members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the situation on the Line of Actual Control.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: July 1, 2020 9:22:39 am
ladakh standoff, India china border tensions, S Jaishankar on china issue, Jean-Yves Le Drian, india china clash, india china galwan valley clash, galwan valley india china, Indian express External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (File Photo)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his counterpart in France Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday and discussed issues of “contemporary security and political importance”, a clear reference to the border stand-off between India and China.

Jaishankar’s call to the French foreign minister indicated that India has started briefing members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the situation on the Line of Actual Control. Top Indian officials and ministers have spoken by phone and had meetings with their counterparts in other countries.

“Wide-ranging discussion with French FM @JY_LeDrian. Covered issues of contemporary security and political importance. Also agreed to address #COVID-related challenges in health and aviation. Thanked him for the strong support in #UNSC and look forward to working together,” Jaishankar posted on Twitter.

The defence minister of France, Florence Parly, had written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to condole the deaths of 20 soldiers in Galwan Valley in the June 15 clash with the Chinese army.

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“This was a hard blow against the soldiers, their families, and the nation,” she wrote. “In these difficult circumstances, I wish to express my steadfast and friendly support, along with that of the French armed forces. I request you to kindly convey my heartfelt condolences to the entire Indian armed forces as well as to the grieving families.”

Officials said the French defence minister had recalled that “India is France’s strategic partner in the region”, and “reiterated her country’s deep solidarity”.

“The French armed forces minister also expressed her readiness to meet Rajnath Singh in India, at his invitation, to follow up on their ongoing discussions,” an official said.

India is likely to receive six fully-loaded French Rafale fighter aircraft by the end of next month. The warjets will come fitted with Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles, which are expected to boost the capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

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Also on Monday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and his counterpart, Secretary General of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, François Delattre, reviewed over a video link the progress of the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The two officials “exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest”, and on the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry said in a statement.

In Moscow, India’s Ambassador D Bala Venkatesh Varma met with Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey A Ryabkov on Monday.

“During the conversation, topical issues of the international agenda of mutual interest were discussed,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. The Russian embassy in New Delhi tweeted, “The diplomats discussed urgent international issues of common interest.”

Varma had spoken with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on June 17, two days after the clash in Galwan. “The officials discussed regional security, including developments on the Line of Actual Control on the border between India and China in the Himalayas,” Russia’s foreign ministry had said in a brief statement.

On June 26, India and Germany held foreign secretary-level consultations virtually. Foreign Secretary Shringla and Miguel Berger, state secretary of the German federal foreign office discussed bilateral cooperation in various areas, and exchanged views on “regional and global issues of mutual interest”.

Germany is a key partner — it is on the UNSC as a non-permanent member, and holds the UNSC presidency for the month of July. Germany will also assume presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) from July through December 2020. It will chair the meetings of the EU Council, and will be responsible for pushing EU legislation.

“The two sides took stock of the extensive cooperation in addressing the challenges of Covid-19, including supply of medicines, equipment and technology. They agreed to advance the various areas of bilateral cooperation and initiate consultations in the context of India’s upcoming membership of the UN Security Council (2021-22) and G20 Presidency (2022) and Germany’s present membership of the UN Security Council and forthcoming Presidency of the European Union,” the MEA said in a statement issued last week.

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