Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is leaving for the US Friday, will not discuss the issue of Article 370 at the United Nations and will focus on development and other issues when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27 morning.
Gokhale said Article 370 is an “internal issue”, and the Prime Minister will focus on issues related to development and India’s role in shaping the global agenda. “Terrorism is one of the issues, but will not be our focus,” he said.
While Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the ending of J&K’s special status under Article 370, and plans to raise it at the UNGA, India has maintained that it is an “internal matter”.
Writing in The New York Times, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s Ambassador to the US, in an opinion article India Is Building a More Prosperous Kashmir, has underlined: “Pakistan has a vested interest in preventing prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Ladakh area of Kashmir, because a weak economy fuels separatist sentiments in some quarters. This fits into Pakistan’s larger strategy of using terrorism as a political tool. This is a country whose fingerprints are on terrorist strikes across the world and that was home to Osama bin Laden in his last days. So it also opposes the repeal of Article 370, which legitimized discrimination and hindered economic progress.”
Gokhale said Modi will visit the US from September 21 to September 27, during which he will meet Trump and address the UNGA session. While Modi will meet Trump for a bilateral meeting in New York, besides sharing the stage in Houston, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will visit Washington DC for a bilateral visit.
Trump has hinted that he could make an announcement at the event. Responding to a question from a reporter on a possible announcement, he said: “Could be. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi.”
When Gokhale was asked about this, he said the question about a possible announcement should be put to the US President himself.
Sources said that talks are underway to reach an arrangement on the US walking back on the revocation of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Gokhale, on his part, said withdrawal of the GSP was an unilateral decision. India, he said, considered that it was “important” for its industry. Also, the two sides are discussing ways and means to resolve issues concerning medical devices.
With the world commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Modi will host a special event “Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World” on September 24. He will be joined by leaders of some countries at this event.
Other events lined up include a climate summit, a summit on strategic responses to terrorism and another on universal health coverage. While the climate summit will be hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the summit on combating terrorism will be hosted by the King of Jordan, along with leaders from France and New Zealand.
Modi will also be honoured by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He will be presented the 2019 Global Goalkeeper Award for his leadership of the Swachh Bharat Mission. He will also be the keynote speaker at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on September 25.
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