Bangalore meet to give a push to trilateral diplomacy

The first ever foreign ministers’ level meeting of the three countries held in June 2005 in Vladivostok, Russia, had aroused considerable interest among observers and the analysts believe that the dialogue may be acquiring a strategic-dimension. Since then, the foreign ministers of these three countries have met four times and exchanged views on issues of common concern.

The second meeting was held in New Delhi in Feb 2007 and the third at Harbin in China in Oct 2007. The last meeting was held in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on the sidelines of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) meeting held on May 15 last year.

The scheduled meeting in Bangalore on Oct 25 and 26 is being attended by India’s external affairs minister S M Krishna, his Russian counterpart Sergie Lavrov — whom he met last week in Moscow — and the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi. In recent times, there has been considerable synergy among these three countries.

Issues of mutual interest such as energy security, better connectivity and dialogue between the academic institutions are likely to be on the agenda. The meeting has assumed importance in the light of the recent misunderstandings between India and China over Arunachal Pradesh and other issues. Krishna will be meeting his Chinese counterpart in the backdrop of prime minister Manmohan Singh’s hour-long discussion with the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in Thailand, where the East-Asian summit concluded on Sunday.

The importance of the trilateral initiative can be attributed to the fact that India, Russia and China, as countries with growing international influence can make substantive contributions to global peace, security and stability. It is increasingly felt that cooperation rather than confrontation should govern approaches to regional and global affairs.

The fast growing economies of these countries offer very good opportunities for cooperation in many areas such energy and fighting the menace of terrorism, which was emphasised at the PM-level meeting.
The three countries together encompass approximately 40 per cent of the world’s 6.5 billion people. There is no military angle to this tie-up and it is aimed at promoting international harmony and facilitating mutual cooperation in a multi-polar world. As India, China, Russia enjoy economic growth and development never before seen in their history, they appear to have a lot to contribute to each other’s growth and become a force to reckon with on the international scene.

Valdimir Putin who demitted office of president and currently is the prime minister of Russia, has been pressing  for a multipolar world. Russia believes that multilateral diplomacy based on international law should manage regional and global relations. In his Munich speech, Putin had said that a “unipolar world had failed to materialise and that the new international system has not one but several leading actors and their collective leadership is needed to manage global relations.” He further said that this multipolarity encourages network of diplomacy as the best way for states to achieve their shared objectives.

India is of the view that trilateral cooperation would help in contributing to peace and development in the region and the world at large. Russia too is of the opinion that as the three countries uphold the concept if a multi-polar world and frequently take similar stands at multilateral bodies, they could utilise the synergy to promote their domestic economic development.

China has been articulating that the three countries could join hands in several fields, including trade, energy, science and technology to broaden strategic ties with each other. In this context, the trilateral meeting assumes significance because the forum of foreign ministers could be useful to chalk out a concrete road-map for future cooperation.

Besides economic cooperation and fighting the scourge of terrorism, the three countries of the region have convergence of outlook and approach to many regional and international issues like the developments in Myanmar, Iran nuclear issue, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, etc. For example India’s opposition to impose sanctions against Myanmar and advance political reforms and national reconciliation find support from both Russia and China. India believes that the initiative taken by the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon to open a dialogue among the various stakeholders in Myanmar should be encouraged. The convergence of approach of these three countries on Iran’s nuclear programme is well known.

The imperatives of multilateral cooperation through regional and sub-regional configuration is the need of the hour to harness and synergise the regional strength for the enlightened national interests of the countries of the region, for their mutual benefit and for the global peace and prosperity. Prosperity has to be shared and should not be monopolised.

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