Brics Summit: Modi’s challenge is to convince Xi, Putin on Pakistan-backed terror

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to host ten world leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in the seaside resort of Goa, India’s showcase tourist destination. Why Goa some may ask, considering that this is perhaps the first time that India is hosting such a major event outside Lutyens Delhi. Away from the capital, leaders can be more at ease and speak freely to each other in the relaxed holiday surrounding of sea and sand.

Brics Summit: Modi's challenge is to convince Xi, Putin on Pakistan-backed terror

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the Brics leaders’ meeting, on the sidelines of G20 Summit 2016, in Hangzhou, China on 4 September, 2016.

Modi would want his high-powered guests to be in the right mood as India needs to put its best foot forward. The Brics summit and the outreach to Bimstec nations are being held in the backdrop of rising tension between India and Pakistan. Ever since the Uri attack, Delhi has been trying to diplomatically isolate Pakistan, especially in the region. China, Pakistan’s all-weather friend and Russia which has held military exercises with Pakistan for the first time, will both be told of India’s concern on terrorism emanating from the bordering country by Prime Minister Modi during his interaction. Whether he can convince either President Xi or Putin remains to be seen. But terrorism will certainly be on top of the agenda during the summit and the declaration at the end will devote much space to the fight against terror.

The Goa meet is taking place at a time when Russia-US ties are at an all-time low over Syria, and US charges of Russia interfering in its presidential race. Xi and Putin are also coming closer, which worries the US and its allies. India’s warming ties with the US and China’s suspicion that the US wants to balance China’s growing military might in the Asia-Pacific region by bringing India into its fold is another element of the complicated relations between the three important Brics partners.

India pulled out of Saarc and scuttled this year’s Islamabad summit after Uri. It also ensured that Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka also pull out. Delhi now wants to energise Bimstec, a regional grouping of the Bay of Bengal countries, which does not include Pakistan will be a part of India’s diplomatic strategy. In fact, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation was promoted by India in 1997, at a time when it was fed up with Pakistan’s negative stand in Saarc. It wanted to ensure another grouping which would work better. Modi is hoping to breathe fresh life into Bimstec and ensure that this regional forum would work better than Saarc.

All this diplomatic maneuvering will take place in India’s best-known tourist destination. Brics have often held its summits away from the capital cities. The first meeting of Brazil, Russia, India and China (South Africa had not yet joined) was in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in 2009. China held the Brics summit in 2011 in Sanya, South Africa in 2013 in Durban and Brazil in Fortaleza in 2014. Last year’s was in Ufa in Russia. Manmohan Singh’s Brics summit predictably was in New Delhi in 2012.

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