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SAARC has certain problems, we all know what It is: EAM Jaishankar

Without naming Pakistan, EAM made his point clear.

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SAARC has certain problems, we all know what It is: EAM Jaishankar
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India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in his first public speech after taking charge has said neighbourbood will be the top priority of the govt in next five years, with BIMSTEC or Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation grouping fitting into India's "vision of economic cooperation".

Speaking at an event in Delhi, Jaishankar said, "It (neighborhood) will be top priority in next 5 years... Primary responsibility is on India because we are the largest economy. Our growth can serve our neighbors. We need to incentivise cooperation in the neighborhood. It cannot be reciprocal because we have more resources and much greater capability. I would expect to see a generous regime where we take the lead, we have substantial lines of credit, we have programmes of grant assistance for many of our neighbours."

Giving example of Bangladesh, he said there is positivity in relationship and appetite to have more 'interaction with India'. While differentiating between BIMSTEC & SAARC, he said, while with former India sees a 'possibility', the latter has 'certain problems'.

The former foreign secretary said,  "Emphasis govt is putting on BIMSTEC..Any organisation or platform that allows you to progress, you would like to use appropriately. SAARC has certain problems, we all know what It is. Even if you were to put terrorism issue aside, there are connectivity issues, there are trade issues. So BIMSTEC leaders were invited for swearing in because we see today energy in BIMSTEC, a possibility in BIMSTEC and a mindset in BIMSTEC that fits into..vision of economic cooperation"

India's focus has been BIMSTEC since the cancellation of SAARC summit in 2016 in the aftermath of Uri terror attack. India along with Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives had boycotted the summit in Islamabad.  

PM Modi had participated in the 4th BIMSTEC summit which took place in Kathmandu last year and India had also called all the BIMSTEC leaders for a retreat in Goa in 2016 when India hosted the BRICS summit. At the oath-taking ceremony of PM Modi for 2nd term, India invited all the BIMSTEC leaders.

LEGACY OF EAM TO CONTINUE

Jaishankar made it clear, the legacy of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj of reaching out to Indians in distress on social media platform Twitter will continue since "today there is an expectation of any Indian, if they are in trouble anywhere in the world, somewhere the Indian govt will do something" 

He explained, that the response mechanism is available and that has changed the image of the foreign ministry to which he credited Sushma Swaraj. 'I will give credit to my predecessor Sushma Swaraj, that she led the effort to change and it requires a lot of hard work, you have to create a system ", he said.

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