IN HIS first first formal interaction with the diplomatic corps in New Delhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met Ambassadors and High Commissioners of G20 member countries and India’s immediate neighbours. The High Commissioner of Pakistan, however, was not invited to the luncheon given the tension between the two countries.
The Congress leadership shared its economic and political vision with the envoys ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The envoys sought to know about the Congress’s position on a range of issues, both regional and global and political as well as economic. Senior Congress leaders termed it as a “free-wheeling interaction”, which lasted nearly three hours, during which the recent Pulwama terrorist attack and the Indian Air Force strike in Balakot too came up for discussion.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present, so were senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Manish Tewari. Interestingly, four former diplomats — former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, former Ambassador to the US and Germany Meera Shankar, former High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal and former High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravorty too were present.
“Regional and global issues, politics, economy, global security, trade issues, protectionism… every issue was on the table. It was a meaningful engagement and a good meeting. We shared our vision. What will be the Congress party’s approach… how are we viewing various global developments like Brexit…,” said senior Congress leader and the party’s foreign department chairman Anand Sharma.
The Congress and the ruling BJP are engaged in a war of words over the Pulwama attack and India’s reaction in its aftermath. At the meeting, Rahul told the envoys that India stands as one country in the fight against terrorism. “We have an uncompromising attitude when it comes to fighting terrorism, which is not diluted or changed whether we are in government or in the opposition,” Sharma said.
The Pakistan High Commissioner was not invited to the luncheon, which was attended by ambassadors of the US and China and the UK High Commissioner among others.
“Today I met with diplomats of the G-20 nations & some neighbouring countries. We discussed a wide range of issues & are united in our fight against the scourge of terrorism. I enjoyed the exchange of perspectives & ideas & look forward to continuing our dialogue,” Rahul tweeted later. He interacted with the ambassadors jointly for half an hour and then sat down at each table and shared his thoughts with them separately.
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