UNGA | Swaraj reaches New York; UNSC seat, counter-terrorism, climate change on agenda

18 September 2017, 09:17 AM
UNGA | Swaraj reaches New York; UNSC seat, counter-terrorism, climate change on agenda (Image: Twitter)
UNGA | Swaraj reaches New York; UNSC seat, counter-terrorism, climate change on agenda (Image: Twitter)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reached United States in the wee hours of Monday morning (IST) to attend United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York

Swaraj will address the UNGA on September 23 and until then she will have a string of bilateral and multilateral meetings.

The external affairs minister has 15-20 bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA, including one with her US counterpart Rex Tillerson, an official said. 

Meeting with the US

Swaraj will also attend a multilateral meeting chaired by President Donald Trump on the issue of reforming the world body, external affairs ministry spokesperson Ravish Kumar told reporters in New York.

This will the be first meeting between Swaraj and Tillerson, to be followed soon enough by their second, as part of the 2-by-2 dialogue. India and the United States announced a new 2-by-2 talks format simultaneously involving the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries, replacing the earlier version that involved the foreign and commerce ministers.

The new dialogue is slated for later this month, to be hosted by India.

No meeting with Pakistan, China

The external affairs ministry officials in New York told media that ther ehave been no official invitation for a bilateral meeting from Pakistan. 

Though the minister has no structured bilateral meetings with counterparts from China and Pakistan, she will see them at meetings of multilateral bodies of which they are members, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS.

“They are known to say hello to each other and exchange pleasantries at these multilateral forums,” an official said on background, “but no structured bilateral meetings have been lined up with China or Pakistan.”

Read | No bilateral talks with Pakistan during annual UNGA session: MEA Ravish Kumar

India's agenda at UNGA 

Swaraj is expected to support US President Trump's call for reforms in UN secretariat, however, India's goal is going to be focused on overall reforms, basically the expansion of UNSC to incode India as a permanent member. 

The main element will be a “broad-based” and “all-encompassing” reform of the UN, which is essentially the expansion of the Security Council to reflect the changing world situation, India's permanent ambassador to UN Syed Akbaruddin said. 

UNSC expansion, which is progressing at snail’s pace, will be addressed specifically by Swaraj also when she meets her counterparts from the other so-called G4 countries — Germany, Japan and Brazil — that have come together in support of each other’s claim to membership of the UN’s top decision-making body.

Read | Will not sit idle till Masood Azhar brought to justice: India’s envoy to United Nations

Counter-terrorism will be one of five key elements of India’s agenda at the upcoming session of the UN, Akbaruddin said.

The other key elements of the Indian agenda for the session are peacekeeping operations and the questions of sustainable peace. India is a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, tackling climate change and the need to focus on people-centric issues such as migration.

India along with 113 countries has also supported discussion on the issues of “Responsibility to Protect and Prevent Massacre". Pakistan and 21 other nations have opposed the discussion.

Read | No change in US position on Paris agreement: White House

First Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 07:02 AM

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