In a strong message to Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping listening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday said terrorism is the “biggest problem” the world is facing and countries that support terrorists should also be held guilty.
Modi’s comments at the virtual BRICS summit Tuesday come against the backdrop of China’s continuing support for Pakistan as its “all-weather ally” despite Islamabad’s track record on cross-border terrorism directed at India. They also follow attempts by Pakistan to target India for fuelling terrorism — a charge that India has denied strongly.
However, Modi, who shared a visual platform with Xi for the second time in a week, did not raise the issue of the Ladakh border standoff. Last Tuesday, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, the Prime Minister spoke about “respecting territorial sovereignty and integrity” —an oblique reference to the standoff.
“Terrorism is the biggest problem the world is facing. We have to ensure that the countries that support and assist terrorists are also held guilty… We are happy that under Russia’s leadership, BRICS’ counter-terrorism strategy has been given its final touch. India will take it forward during its leadership,” Modi said.
Apart from Modi and Xi, the 12th BRICS summit, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was attended by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.
Modi also raised the issue of reforms at the UN and other multilateral organisations, such as WHO and WTO. BRICS has two permanent members on the UN Security Council and three aspirants.
In another signal to Beijing, which has lobbied along with Pakistan and some other countries to scuttle Indian efforts for a permanent UNSC seat, Modi said: “We expect support from our BRICS partners on this issue. Several… international organisations aren’t functioning according to the contemporary realities.”
On the pandemic, the Prime Minister asserted that India can be a force multiplier for the post-Covid global economy. Putin, meanwhile, called for a joint BRICS effort on the development of Covid vaccines and suggested that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine could be produced in China and India.
“We believe it is important to speed up the establishment of the centre for development and research of BRICS vaccines, which we agreed to do two years ago,” Putin said.
Xi called on the five-member bloc to hold a symposium to explore the role of traditional medicine in Covid prevention and treatment.
“Chinese companies are working with their Russian and Brazilian partners on Phase 3 clinical trials for vaccines. We are prepared to have cooperation with South Africa and India as well,” he said.