India Can't Grow in Isolation: Foreign Secretary

New Delhi
India Can't Grow in Isolation: Foreign Secretary

Highlighting the importance of cooperation and connectivity in the country's neibhourhood policy, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar today said "India cannot grow in isolation".

While access to service and movement of people has become difficult in today's world, "people lose out by remaining disconnected", he said at an event here.

"India cannot grow in isolation. We find it much harder to do so without the support of the region. For that reason, it is imperative that cooperation and connectivity with neighbours grow rapidly.

"This is the essence of our neighbourhood policy...We don't expect this to be easy path but are confident that obstacles in path would be overcome. It is for Indian diplomacy to address the imbalances which have constrained neighbourhood partnership," Jaishankar said.

He further said "fruits" of partnership is already "visible to our neighbours".

"Each of our neighbours wants to invest here and built connectivity projects. Everyone wants to make money out of India," he said.

Referring to movement of people, he said "we have had visa issues with the US. We had visa issues with the UK".

"These are the challenges we are facing today...Global trade discourse has to be fairer then it is today," he added.

Jaishankar said India's neighbouring countries are all taking advantage of various connectivity and infra projects that the country is developing.

He further said Asean holds an important position in India's foreign policy.

"Today we have started supplying power to Myanmar for the first time," he said, adding this is a culmination of the government's aggressive Look East policy.

India is doing all it can to strengthen ties with China, Korea and Japan.

He said a number of economic corridors, industrial parks and connectivity projects are coming up in India in collaboration with foreign countries.

Talking about the US, he said both sides are having "deeper cooperation".

"India's foreign policy is conscious of fact that demands are going to grow ... Pressures of international economic consequences pose as a challenge," he said.

He said that energy security forms a crucial part of Indian diplomacy and a focus will be on hydroelectric projects and expanding nuclear energy programme.

Every Indian embassy around the world has a commercial attache, which shows the government's focus on inviting investments and also investing abroad, the Secretary said.

On India-Iran trade relationship, Jaishankar said it was constrained due to sanction.

"Iran offers us way to Afghanistan. We are working with Iran to set up a port," he said.

On the issue of manpower in external affairs, he said there are constraints but the government is trying to overcome by increasing intake.

"Are you stretched for people? Yes I am," he said, adding the existing staff has also stretched their work to meet the shortfall of headcount.

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