NEW DELHI (TIP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over the weekend in a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit.
The three meetings assume great significance in the context of the India-Pakistan tension also because of the many important bilateral issues India has with each of the three countries. Modi is likely to discuss a variety of defense-related issues with Putin. The first joint Russia-Pakistan military exercise was held recently and that adds to India’s headache as it attempts to isolate Pakistan globally. However, sources indicate both countries are likely to make progress on India’s desire to purchase Russian air defense missile systems, helicopters and upgrading of Sukhoi-30 MKI.
The tricky bilateral will be with the Chinese President. While it is reliably learnt that Modi will raise the issues of India’s renewed efforts to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and that of Masood Azhar’s designation as an international terrorist, China is unlikely to go along with India in either case.
The statements coming out of China in the last few days are a fair indication that on the NSG, China will stick to “consensus” and also drag Pakistan’s membership issue alongside India’s. On Masood Azar issue, China is likely to stand by its friend Pakistan.
The third important bilateral that Modi is scheduled to hold is with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina. Sources privy to developments said Bangladesh would raise the Teesta water treaty issue. Bangladesh, under Hasina, has been extremely supportive of India and has backed India on terror-related issues vis-a-vis Pakistan. Hasina now expects the Modi government to go along with her on the Teesta treaty as a sign that her support to India is recognized.
The spotlight during the summit will be on terror. Though Pakistan will not be present at the summit, it will remain a constant point of reference. The future of BRICS-a club made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-has become a little uncertain with India reaching out to the US in a tighter embrace.
Besides BRICS, India will also host BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Initiative) member countries and most heads of state have confirmed their participation. BIMSTEC comprises Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.