'SAARC Yatra' to help Achieve Modi's Vision: Foreign Secy Dr. Jaishankar


India’s Foreign Secretary Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar outlined the foreign policy contours of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, and touched upon the bilateral and multilateral engagements of the country in an interaction with foreign journalists at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia in New Delhi.

In accordance with the prime minister’s directives, the Indian foreign secretary will be undertaking the first phase of the ‘SAARC Yatra’ with a visit to Dhaka on March 2, followed by a visit to Islamabad, where he will resume India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks cancelled last year. Later in the month, he would visit Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“The first nine months of the Narendra Modi government has set the ball rolling. It is an exciting time for the Indian diplomacy, and the government is going all out in changing the foreign policy discourse,” he said.

On the contentious border dispute with China, Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar remarked: “The border dispute with China is the world’s biggest real estate dispute. We must not let this issue drift to the next generation.”

Expressing concern over the South China Sea controversy, he said: “Freedom of navigation is a matter of concern for India.”

Admitting to persistent differences on issues such as climate change, the foreign secretary struck a conciliatory note: “India and China are two different countries at different stages of development. There are bound to be divergent views.”

On the volatile relationship with Pakistan, the foreign secretary stated the Indian position in no uncertain terms: “India is open to discuss all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, with Pakistan.”

Dr. S. Jaishankar assumed his responsibilities as foreign secretary of India on January 29, 2015. He has more than three decades of diplomatic experience. Joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1977, Dr. Jaishankar has represented India's interests and fostered friendly working relationships in countries around the world.

Dr. S. Jaishankar was the ambassador of India to China from 2009 to 2013, and was the ambassador of India to US before assuming responsibilities as foreign secretary.

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