Can the Elephant and the Dragon dance together?

China’s Wang Yi, Sergey Lavrov of Russia and India’s Sushma Swaraj held the 15th Russia-India-China foreign ministers meeting.

Published: 12th December 2017 02:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2017 04:48 PM   |  A+A-

Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives at a joint press conference following the Russia-India-China Foreign Ministerial Meeting at Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhawan

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: If the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China discussed touchy issues like their different perspectives on terror, that did not reflect in the joint communiqué issued after their meeting here on Monday morning. China’s Wang Yi, Sergey Lavrov of Russia and India’s Sushma Swaraj held the 15th Russia-India-China foreign ministers meeting. Wang and Lavrov met separately and with Sushma before their trilateral meet, and also called on President Ram Nath Kovind.

According to the joint communiqué issued after the meeting, the three sides “discussed global and regional issues of common concern... in the backdrop of evolving political scenario in the Middle East and North Africa, numerous challenges in putting the world economy back on growth track, serious concerns relating to growing risks of terrorism, transnational organised crime, illicit drug trafficking, natural and man-made disasters, food security and climate change…” The rest of the 3,482-word document is about respect for the rule of law and the UN Charter, regional groupings and how terrorism must be dealt with.

A day before he left Beijing for Delhi, Wang—the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit India post the Doklam border standoff—had addressed the opening of a Symposium on International Developments and China’s Diplomacy in 2017.  The speech is significant because it lays out the foreign policy of President Xi Jinping’s second term.

Wang said, “As long as we continue to engage in in-depth strategic communication and promptly dispel strategic misgivings, the strategic value of China-India cooperation will speak for itself, and there will be a prospect of the dragon and the elephant dancing together and the 1+1=11 effect as expected by our leaders.”

About Monday’s meetings, former Indian ambassador to China Ashok Kantha said,  “These are not outcome-oriented meetings but consultative in nature. Apart from the trilateral meeting, the three foreign ministers also meet bilaterally informally. The joint communiqué puts out the common position of the three nations.”

“The fact that these three nations, who have starkly different foreign policy objectives and many that impact them equally, like terrorism, climate change and economy, are sitting across the table and talking is a very big deal, and should not be belittled,” said another diplomat.

The 16th trilateral meeting will be held in Russia next year.

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