March 9, 2022
NEW DELHI – India today said the development of its ties with China must be based on ‘three mutuals’–mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interest–and made it clear that an improvement in ties with Pakistan could not be at the expense of its own security.
”We have made it clear to China that peace and tranquility in the border areas is essential for the development of our relationship,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, two days before the 15th round of military-level talks between the two countries on the stand-off at Eastern Ladakh .
”While we desire a good relationship with Pakistan, it cannot be at the expense of our security,” he said at the inaugural session of the ”Training Module on India’s Neighbourhood”, organised by the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration.
He said it was the neighbourhood that came first and foremost amongst all the foreign policy priorities of India.
Shringla pointed out that this was the first-ever training module on India’s neighbourhood at the academy. ”This is part of the government’s efforts to mainstream ‘Neighbourhood First policy’ in the functioning of all ministries and departments of the Government of India,” he added.
He said that for India globalisation began with its neighbourhood. ”It is the neighbourhood that comes first and foremost amongst all our foreign policy priorities,” he added.
The top Indian diplomat pointed out that at the instance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India accorded the highest priority to its relations with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. ‘It is these countries – with the exception of Pakistan – that we work most closely with,” he said.
Countries in the neighbourhood were of special significance to India. ”Our ties with these countries are underpinned by a shared history and culture. Policy initiatives taken by India – and its neighbours – have implications for each other,”
The foreign secretary said ties with the neighbouring countries have a direct relevance to Indian states bordering these countries. India has also realized its prosperity and growth were linked to that of its neighbours. ”We cannot develop unless our neighbours develop.”
At the same time, he said India would have to contend with geo-political realities and extant threats such as cross-border terrorism and crime.
”We will be resolute in dealing with them. We will continue to expand our capacities to do so. We will build alliances and networks through multilateral and plurilateral constructs such as the UN, the FATF, SCO and closer home through BIMSTEC and IORA and IONS, to deal with security challenges,” he added.