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Indian PM backs Russia, China ahead of US trip
September 22, 2014, 6:12 am

From left to right: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil on 15 July 2014 [PPIO]

From left to right: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil on 15 July 2014 [PPIO]

Days ahead of his US visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has backed BRICS members Russia and China, refusing to criticise Moscow for its annexation of Crimea and reiterating trust in China’s handling of territorial disputes in the east and south China seas.

In an interview to CNN, aired on Sunday, Modi, when asked whether New Delhi is as worried about China’s “behavior in the east and south China seas” like Vietnam and Philippines, said he has faith in Beijing’s understanding and its commitment to global laws.

“China is also a country with an ancient cultural heritage. Look at how it has focused on economic development. It’s hardly the sign of a country that wants to be isolated. It wants to stay connected. That is why we should have trust in China’s understanding and have faith that it would accept global laws and will play its role in cooperating and moving forward,” he told the American broadcaster.

According to official Chinese data, the South China Sea covers 3.55 million square km. China, the Philippines, Vietnam and other nations lay contesting claims to these waters. China exercises jurisdiction over about 2 million square km of the maritime territory. The push comes even as the US seeks to assert its own influence in the region in the form of a much-hyped Asia Pivot.

Meanwhile, Modi had held intensive talks with the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier last week, where leaders of the world’s two most populous nations used the summit to sign 12 agreements to boost their commercial and trade ties. The Export Import Bank of China signed an agreement with the State Bank of India to extend a $1.8 billion line of credit for projects. A similar agreement was signed with India’s ICICI Bank for $1 billion.

“If you see the details of the last five or ten centuries, you will see that India and China have grown at similar paces. Their contributions to global GDP have risen in parallel, and fallen in parallel. Today’s era once again belongs to Asia. India and China are both growing rapidly, together,” Modi told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a pre-recorded interview.

In continuing with New Delhi’ earlier reiteration of support to Moscow over the annexation of Crimea, Modi said dialogue has to replace the current blame-game.

“There is a saying in India that the person who should throw a stone first is the person who has not committed any sins. In the world right now, a lot of people want to give advice. But look within them, and they too have sinned in some way. Ultimately, India’s view point is that efforts need to be made to sit together and talk, and to resolve problems in an ongoing process,” Modi said.

China, which has own restive regions such as Tibet, has taken a cautious response to the issue of Crimea while New Delhi has gone a step further to say Moscow has “legitimate” interests in Ukraine and they should be discussed to find a satisfactory solution to the issue.

“We are watching what is happening in Ukraine with concern… The broader issues of reconciling various interests involved and there are, after all, legitimate Russian and other interests involved and we hope those are discussed, negotiated and there is a satisfactory resolution to them,” former Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said in March this year.

The West describes the popular vote in Crimea, in which nearly 97 per cent voted in favor of rejoining Russia, as illegitimate, while Moscow says it is in line with the UN Charter and international laws.

Reuters quoted US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal last week as saying India “does itself a discredit” by blocking the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) reached in Bali last year, and that Washington will press Modi on the issue. Citing concerns over food security, India had decided not to sign the trade protocol agreed to by WTO members.
The decision was taken after a Cabinet meet headed by the Indian Prime Minister.

“A permanent solution on food security is a must for us and we cannot wait endlessly in a state of uncertainty while the WTO engages in an academic debate on the subject of food security which is what some developed countries seem to be suggesting before they are ready to engage on this important issue,” explained Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Modi’s high-profile visit to the US begins September 26.

TBP

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