Swaraj to represent India at 72nd UN General Assembly
New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not attending the 72nd Genaral Assembly of the United Nations, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj will represent India at the UN event. According to sources, EAM will meet first time US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Before her visit to New York early next week, Ministry of Foreign Affairs is busy to finalise her engagements. Meanwhile, Swaraj herself called up Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina at her office on Thursday night.
Though Deputy Press Secretary of Bangladesh Prime Minister Nazrul Islam briefed the media there about the conversation, no Indian official has commented on the meeting, so far. According to Bangladesh media, as briefed by the Deputy Press Secretary, Swaraj sought an appointment with the Bangladesh Prime Minister when she is in New York. Sources also claimed that she wanted to brief Bangladesh PM about India' latest stand on the Rohingya crisis. She also informed the Bangladesh PM about India's diplomatic initiative on the Rohingya issue. India is raising the issue with the Myanmar government and at multilateral forums to urge Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and India.
In all, Swaraj will have some two dozen bilateral meetings and several multilateral commitments, aside from speaking at the UN general debate on September 23, sources said. She will hold talks with, among others, the newly-appointed Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono and her German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. Swaraj will also attend a meeting hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron.
The meeting with Tillerson, in particular, will be crucial, coming after US president Donald Trump's call last month for India to do more in Afghanistan. "We appreciate India's important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development," Trump said on August 21.
India's concerns over Pakistan's backing of terror groups is likely to be on the table, given that Trump, in his statement, had also chastised Pakistan for providing a "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror."