WASHINGTON (TIP): India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is on a three-nation visit of Belgium, the US and Saudi Arabia, arrived March 31 in Washington where, among many other engagements, he is attending the Nuclear Security Summit.
Speaking at the summit, Narendra Modi said: “Terrorism is globally networked. But, we still act only nationally to counter this threat. The reach and supply chains of terrorism are global, but genuine cooperation between nation states is not.”
“Drop the notion that terrorism is someone else’s problem and that “his” terrorist is not “my” terrorist. Nuclear security must remain an abiding national priority for every country”, he added
PM Modi praised President Obama for his vision and effort for nuclear security and said: “this legacy of President Obama must endure.”
During his two-day stay in Washington, PM Modi is scheduled to interact with a number of world leaders including the host President Barack Obama.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived in Washington DC on 31 March where he was received at the airport by US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma.
Earlier in the day, Modi met a team of scientists, including 3 Indians, from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), who proved gravitational waves theory.
The team of scientists, was led by Dr France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation, who explained how India was extremely important for the future of the LIGO project. An MoU on the establishment of LIGO project in India was signed by Dr Cordova and Dr Sekhar Basu, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, India, which was witnessed by the Prime Minister himself.
Earlier, on March 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, arrived on his maiden state visit to Belgium and expressed India’s solidarity with the European nation for the tragedy that struck Brussels on 22 March.
His daylong schedule in the city, which is still recovering from a terror attack last week that killed dozens of people, included attending the 13th India-European Union Summit and visiting a memorial at the Maalbeek metro station for the victims of the Brussels attacks, which included Indian engineer Raghavendra.
Speaking in Brussels, Modi said, “India stands in full support and solidarity with Belgium.” He offered his sincere gratitude for the warm welcome he received despite it being a tough time for the country.
Modi and Belgian Prime Minister Michel also had a bilateral meeting. The bilateral meeting between the two premiers was aimed at expanding trade, investment and high technology partnership with this important EU member. The meeting was also focused on stalled trade talks between the two sides as well as on investment, energy, climate, water and migration.
Counter-terrorism was a key focus, particularly in the aftermath of the Brussels bombings. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Belgium in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones,” Modi said.
Over lunch, Modi met with a delegation of Belgian businessmen, an “opportunity for the him to encourage Belgian foreign direct investment into India.”
Modi also met the Indian community outside his hotel on his arrival in Brussel.
Saudi Arabia Visit
The Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, has always played an important role in the India’s economic growth as well as relations with its querulous neighbor Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have been serious about cultivating ties with the middle east and within eight months of his visit to the United Arab Emirates, Modi is scheduled to visit the region again, this time to Saudi Arabia to strengthen Delhi’s close relations with the kingdom and loosen Saudi-Pakistani ties in the process.
India is a major trade partner in the region, and Modi aims to position India globally so as to isolate Pakistan’s military-industrial complex and its policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. The Saudis hope to leverage Indian expertise in IT and services to modernize and diversify a single-source economy dependent on oil.
India’s ties with Saudi Arabia have grown over the last two decades based on burgeoning energy ties and the Indian diaspora – the largest group of foreign workers in the Saudi kingdom.
Modi has already met King Salman of Saudi Arabia twice, and Saudi help was critical in the evacuation of Indian nationals from the Yemeni war zone. The 2012 deportation by the Saudis of Sayed Zabiuddin, also known as Abu Jundal, a suspect in 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, signaled a sea change in Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism priorities.
Saudi Arabia too is cautious in balancing ties between Pakistan and India. Ahead of Modi’s visit, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir tried to alleviate concerns in Pakistan about budding Indo-Saudi ties and insisted that Saudi Arabia’s “relations with Pakistan do not come at the expense of [its] relations with India.” Adel al-Jubeir and Mohammad bin Salman, deputy crown prince and defense minister, visited Pakistan in January despite growing anger at Islamabad’s refusal to commit troops in Yemen and join the Saudi-led “coalition against terrorism” of 34 Islamic nations.
For Indian strategists, any ally that can act as a counterweight to Pakistan in the Islamic world is useful. Saudi Arabia does the same with Iran, the two nations long competing for power and influence in the Gulf. As the regional balance of power between the two threatens to unravel in Iran’s favor, India has repeatedly emphasized a desire for stabilization in the region’s extant balance of power.
The huge Indian diaspora in the country, nearly 3 million, makes India the largest recipient of foreign remittances from the kingdom at an estimated $11 billion. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia each send about 1.5 million foreign workers to Saudi Arabia
Indian IT companies are building capacity in Saudi Arabia, including an all-women business process operations center run by TCS as one example.
A hallmark of Modi’s foreign policy has been a self-confident assertion of Indian interests, marking a distinct break from unnecessary and counterproductive diffidence of the past. The prime minister is keen to see that Pakistan’s close allies apply pressure on Pakistan – and after limited success with the UAE, he will press the Saudis. While it’s unlikely that the Saudis will break with Pakistan, a declaration of opposition to state-sponsored terrorism would be considered a major step.
To win such support, Modi most likely won’t be vocal about Saudi support for Wahhabism, a fundamentalist branch of Islam blamed by many in the international community for contributing to a spread of global terrorism.