EAM Jaishankar to visit Munich, Paris; India, Australia, France FMs trilateral on anvil

New DelhiWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Feb 10, 2022, 01:42 PM IST
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(File photo) India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar Photograph:(PTI)

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In 2019, France had invited India for the summit, in 2020 the then US President Donald Trump had announced his keenness to invite New Delhi but the summit never took place

India's external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar will visit Europe later this month for multiple engagements both in Germany's Munich and French capital Paris.

In Munich, he is expected to take part in the Munich Security Conference that will take place from February 18 to 20.

In 2020, India's EAM had participated at the MSC. The conference has emerged as one of the most well know forums that deals with international security issues and this time comes amid the eastern Europe crisis and Russian military buildup at Ukraine's border. 

It will also be the first high-level visit from Delhi to Germany since the new government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz took charge. The occasion is expected to provide the first in-person meeting between EAM Jaishankar and Germany's new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock. 

Germany is the president of G7 countries this year and for the last three years, India has been regularly invited at the G7 by the host country.

In 2019, France had invited India for the summit, in 2020 the then US President Donald Trump had announced his keenness to invite New Delhi but the summit never took place. Last year the UK had invited India for the summit at Carbis Bay, Cornwall. PM Modi had taken part at the G7 Cornwall meet virtually due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The EAM's next stop will be France where he will participate in the mega meet on Indo Pacific-Paris Forum on February 22.

The meet comes under the six-month French presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian last month announced that invite has been extended to EAM Jaishankar and said, "it will be first time during European presidency there will be an event focused on Indo-Pacific...", adding, "for a long time we have had a very special relationship with India". 

High Representative of the EU for foreign affairs Josep Borrell will also be in the French capital for the forum. The foreign ministerial Paris Forum on Indo-Pacific will see "concretisation of principles we share on the respect for law and harmonious development and post-COVID-19 recovery".

Foreign ministers of European Union members and many Indo-Pacific countries will be present at the forum.

The invite has also been extended to Australian FM Marise Payne. Remember, France-Australia ties had suffered a major blow over AUKUS nuclear deal pact between Washington, London and Canberra.

While France termed it a "stab in the back", Australia highlighted worries over increased Chinese aggressiveness in the region. The visit will be an occasion to repair the damage to the ties.

Meanwhile, work is on to hold on two key trilateral on the sidelines of the forum - India, Australia and France and another being India, Indonesia and Australia foreign ministers meet.

The India, Indonesia and Australia FMs meet was set to take place last year in Delhi but the COVID-19 crisis impacted the incoming visits.

Work on the India, Australia and France trilateral has been going fast, given it's relatively new and came about in 2020.

FMs of all three countries had last met on the sidelines of the G7 FMs meet last year but since the AUKUS pact, no engagement has taken place amid the Paris-Canberra tiff.

A joint statement was released after last year's meet that called for "centrality of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that UNCLOS provides the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas.". 

UNCLOS has been undermined by China in the South China Sea even as the country engages in aggressive manoeuvres. 

The visit to Europe comes after EAM's Asia visit. The EAM visited Qatar on Wednesday and is currently in Australia for Quad foreign ministers meet and engagement with his Australian counterpart.

Later he will travel to the Philippines, it is the first such visit by an Indian foreign minister to the country in a decade and comes in the backdrop of the BrahMos deal.