India Not to Take Side in US-China Clash - Foreign Minister

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez MonsivaisU.S. President Donald Trump, second right, and China's President Xi Jinping, second left, attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
U.S. President Donald Trump, second right, and China's President Xi Jinping, second left, attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. - Sputnik International
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Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is regarded as the troubleshooter of Doklam - the 2017 Indian-China border stand-off, has said that “national interest” will be the guided by principle while dealing with several issues in the complex global scenario.

New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday said a big country like India has a "strong tradition of independent foreign policy" and it will follow the same approach now. 

"Frankly, in every clash, there is an opportunity. There are risks also. I don't deny that. And, obviously, my job will be to manage the risks and maximise the opportunity", Jaishankar, in his first public speech after taking charge as foreign minister, said at an event organised in New Delhi.

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The comment comes against the backdrop of rising clashes between the US and China on tariff issues and the tech-war over the 5G network expansion by Huawei.

Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe speaks during the fourth plenary session of the 18th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual defense and security forum in Asia, in Singapore, Sunday, June 2, 2019. - Sputnik International
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Jaishankar, who took charge of the ministry a week ago, also recalled his comment in response to former US Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus' query on India's position on the US-China rivalry at an earlier event. "Sure, we have taken a side. I have taken my side", Jaishankar reiterated.

The Trump administration has been putting immense pressure on New Delhi to follow the sanctions policy on Iran. In the meantime, the Trump administration has also revoked a special trade privilege granted to India since 1976 for exporting around 2,000 goods to the US duty-free. It may be recalled that India's new Telecom and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while taking oath in the second term of the Narendra Modi government, said whether Huawei will take part in 5G trial or not is a "complex issue" and will be looked at seriously, including the security aspects.

Prasad further stated that the "US puts a lot of pressure on many governments but I believe Indian government will make their own independent decision". India and the US are expected to hold a crucial meeting later this month on most of these issues during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming Delhi visit.

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The 73-day Doklam stand-off in 2017 was one of the most bitter escalations between India and China in five decades. It was probably toughest challenge of Jaishankar as foreign secretary. It ended in August 2017 after 13 rounds of diplomatic discussions to resolve the issue, starting with the first diplomatic intervention on 7 July 2017, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hamburg, Germany, on the side-lines of the G-20 Summit. It was Jaishankar who suggested involving the top most leadership of China to break the deadlock.

Nevertheless, Jaishankar emphasised that the neighbourhood will be his top priority, with BIMSTEC or, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, fitting into India's "vision of economic cooperation".

He also clarified that the eight-nation grouping SAARC has certain problems. "Even if you were to put terrorism issue aside, there are connectivity issues, there are trade issues".

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