Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to skip the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Venezuela has raised eyebrows. Modi would only be the second Indian Prime Minister to not attend the NAM summit since its inception in 1961.
Indian vice-president Hamid Ansari on Friday sought to downplay the decision saying there was no shift in India's foreign policy.
Ansari will be leading the Indian delegation to the summit in Porlamar on September 17-18.
"India is participating. NAM is not a conference of prime ministers. They have been going, but there have been occasions when prime minister, for a variety of reasons, has not been able to go but India's participation remains," Ansari said.
Venezuela foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez had personally handed over the invitation to Indian government.
Ansari asserted that terrorism remains the biggest concern for India and will be taken up at the summit. India has urged the movement to set up a 'Working Group on Terrorism' to coordinate their positions in the international forum.
"Priorities of this conference also, if I remember correctly, are peace, sovereignty and solidarity for development. Basic point is how do you devote your energies to development," Ansari added.
A large number of NAM delegations have supported setting up of a working group. But Pakistan quickly opposed India's proposal on counter-terrorism.
Pakistani representative Tasneem Aslam questioned why a working group was suggested only for terrorism and not for other issues.
It remains to be seen whether the proposal will be included in the final statement of the 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.