In an exclusive interview with India Today, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar provided insights into various foreign policy issues, shedding light on the India-Maldives dispute, China’s stance, Indo-Pak relations, and the possibility of Donald Trump making a comeback as the US President.
Addressing the India-Maldives row, Jaishankar emphasized the need to avoid blowing the issue out of proportion. He disclosed that a team from the Maldives had visited India for two days, indicating a mutual understanding. While acknowledging the diplomatic tussle, the minister expressed optimism, stating, “I hope that the focus shifts there rather than drag on as unnecessarily on this particular issue.” He mentioned that India is considering deploying trained non-military personnel for medical evacuation aircraft, responding to Maldives’ request.
Jaishankar said: “I think that over a period of time, there should not be an issue between us. I think the rest of the relationship is strong.. we have many other things happening and I hope that the focus shifts there rather than drag on as unnecessarily on this particular issue.”
On the subject of China, Jaishankar acknowledged the serious problems and differing postures on the Line of Actual Control. He highlighted India’s ability to deploy troops effectively, serving as a deterrent to Chinese responses. The minister underlined the importance of manufacturing technologies, developing infrastructure, and addressing neglected areas to rise to the challenges posed by China.
Discussing Indo-Pak relations, Jaishankar noted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initial desire for good relations with Pakistan. However, he emphasized the persistent issue of cross-border terrorism as a hurdle to improved ties. The minister stated that unless there is a fundamental reset in thinking on terrorism, prospects for peace between India and Pakistan remain limited.
Turning to the United States, Jaishankar addressed concerns about the potential return of Donald Trump to power. He acknowledged the significance of the leader of the most powerful country but reassured that India, with its independent position, has adeptly navigated changes in US leadership in the past. The minister expressed confidence that both structural and diplomatic aspects would position India well, irrespective of the political landscape in the United States.