The Indian foreign secretary on why the Prime Minister is going to the SCO and BRIC summits in Russia...
13 June 2009
SCO and BRIC both crucial, says India
New Delhi: Exploring avenues for regional cooperation in Asia and formulating a joint approach to the world financial crisis will be top of the agenda for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he attends back-to-back summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the new Brazil-Russia-India-China grouping in Yekaterinburg next week.
Briefing reporters here on Friday, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said that although India had participated in all summits of the SCO since joining as an observer in 2005, the Prime Minister’s decision to attend this year demonstrated the importance New Delhi was attaching to the group and the issues it took up. Dr. Singh’s participation was important not just because Russia was the host but because the SCO decided last year that the observer nations — India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan — should participate in all the organisation’s deliberations, he added.
The SCO summit would take place on the morning of June 16, to be followed by the BRIC summit and a joint press conference the same afternoon.
Mr. Menon said the BRIC meeting was important at three levels. First, there was tremendous value in the four leaders exchanging views on the global financial and economic situation. Second, some amount of preparation had been made at the Track-II and academic level to flesh out a broader agenda for the group and that India hoped some avenues for economic cooperation would emerge. Third, he said, there was a broad convergence of views between the BRIC countries on a number of political issues and there would be a discussion on these though not necessarily any policy decision.
In response to a question about BRIC dissolving into “America bashing,” Mr. Menon said that was an extreme phrase. “There is no reason whatsoever to characterise what BRIC has done or will do as bashing of any kind.” What would emerge would make a positive contribution to global stability, he said. “It is not in any way directed at any one.”
On BRIC working against the position of the dollar as a reserve currency, the foreign secretary said there were a number of “academic” ideas floating around. “I’d rather not get ahead of ourselves.”