'Entire neighbourhood, but one, has been a good story'

India's Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. (PTI Photo)

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that India's entire neighbourhood, minus one, has been a good story in regional cooperation, which will be scaled up.

Jaishankar, in an interactive session at the World Economic Forum here, said he hoped that the 'minus one' would come around after seeing the other countries prosper through increased trade, business, connectivity and contact.

“They have a mindset issue that they have to overcome,” the External Affairs Minister said in response to a question whether the 'minus one' would be a permanent impasse from the Indian perspective.

On the growing nationalistic sentiment world over, the diplomat-turned-politician said he did not view it in a negative sense directed at the world.

“We don't see a tension between being nationalistic and dealing more with the world... when you are going up, you should be doing more things, engaging more with the world,” Jaishankar said.

On the abrogation of Article 370, Jaishankar said he “spoke fairly extensively” in the US on its background, history, “why we did, what we did” as a lot of it was new to the people he discussed the matter with.

“Hardly anybody had the realisation that this (Article 370) was a temporary article in the Constitution or the misalignment due to the fact that a lot of the national laws did not apply in Jammu and Kashmir state. These were all new things to them,” Jaishankar said.

Seeking to draw comparision with China's Belt Road Initiative, the minister said India believed in “softer and collaborative diplomacy” that has a “sense of partnership” and cited examples of initiatives in Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries.

On India's growing footprint in the development projects in South Asia, Jaishankar said New Delhi's approach was to first understand the requirements of the partner country and not to force its own ideas.

India has maintained that China's Belt Road Initiative lured countries into a debt trap and does not respect sovereignty or address environmental issues.

Asked if India would intervene as an official mediator in geopolitical disputes around the globe, Jaishankar said declaring itself as a mediator has not been India's style.

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