Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday held talks with the Indian Ambassadors and the High Commissioners to the South Asian countries and Myanmar as part of the brainstorming sessions with the heads of the various Indian missions, which will take him all the way to Latin America via Africa.
The inaugural phase of Khurshid’s interactions with the envoys will mainly focus on the ways to take forward New Delhi’s ‘neighbourhood policy’. 2013 will be decisive year for the South Asian region, with several nations -- Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan and Nepal -- scheduled to go to the polls leading to instability in their respective polity.
Bangladesh too is going through intense political activity with elections expected to take place there early next year. And Khurshid will embark on a two-day visit to Uganda beginning on Wednesday, which will also be his first visit to mainland Africa, outside South Africa. He will chair a meeting of the Indian envoys to the 18 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa on Thursday.
The External Affairs Minister’s African sojourn comes at a time when five Indian peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in Southern Sudan. India is the third largest contributor of troops to the UN peacekeeping missions, majority of which are now deployed in the region’s various flashpoints.
Moreover, Khurshid will undertake a review of the projects committed by New Delhi under the second India-Africa Forum Summit, especially since the third edition of the summit is scheduled to take place next year.
Following his Africa visit, the External Affairs Minister will set off on a trip to Mexico and Peru. And he will hold talks with the Indian envoys in South and Central America in the Peruvian tourist haunt of Cuzco.