New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday held a series of meetings with the envoys of some of India’s key neighbours – China, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives – in New Delhi, his first such interactions with them since taking office last month, aimed at deepening bilateral ties and cooperation.
In his meeting with China’s Sun Weidong, Shringla “requested that the Chinese authorities may kindly ensure that Indian students, who had to return from China due to the (Corona Virus) outbreak, do not suffer academically since their return to their Universities in China would be delayed due to the ongoing outbreak," a government statement said.
Shringla conveyed India’s “sincere appreciation" for facilitating the evacuation of Indian citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the Corona virus outbreak in China, the statement said. Last weekend, India airlifted 647 of its nationals and seven Maldivians on two Air India flights out of Wuhan. So far 638 deaths and more than 31,000 infections have been reported in China and other countries due to the Corona virus.
On the travel advisory issued by India Shringla “assured the Ambassador that there was no ban on travel to India for Chinese or other foreign persons based in mainland China," the statement said. The reference was to India canceling e-visas and normal visas issued to Chinese nationals and those residing in the mainland earlier this week.
The Chinese ambassador briefed Shringla on the measures taken by Beijing to tackle the outbreak. Shringla on his part “conveyed that the People and Government of India stood ready to help China and provide whatever assistance is possible to face this challenge", the statement said.
Sun and Shringla also discussed activities planned for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. “While some of the planned activities might be delayed the two sides should work jointly to ensure that we are able to implement as many activities as possible once the situation returns to normal," the statement said. The reference was to India and China looking to commemorate 70 years of diplomatic relations with both countries organizing a series of 70 events in China and in India.
“FS @harshvshringla met Amb Sun Weidong @China_Amb_India & discussed issues related to our bilateral relations including events related to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. FS conveyed appreciation to the Chinese Govt. for facilitating evacuation of Indians from Wuhan," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in a Twitter post.
In his meeting with Muhammad Imran, the Bangladesh envoy to India, Shringla expressed “satisfaction at the qualitative transformation in the bilateral ties in recent years, and underlined the highest importance that India accords to Bangladesh, in keeping with its neighborhood first policy," the statement said.
Shringla, who was India’s envoy to Dhaka from 2016-19, said India was looking forward to jointly commemorating the birth centenary celebrations of Bangladeshi leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman starting on 17 March and also the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh besides the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two sides in 2021, “in a befitting manner".
Shringla also held talks with Nilamber Acharya, Nepal’s ambassador to India. The meeting which was “the first formal" interaction between the two was in “line with Government of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and demonstrates the priority India attaches to its close and multi-faceted relationship with Nepal," the government statement said.
Both expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of relations with “frequent highest level political exchanges and interactions, and expeditious implementation of major connectivity and infrastructure projects of bilateral cooperation," the statement said. Shringla underlined India’s commitment in taking forward ties “based on mutual trust and benefit," it said.
In his meeting with Aishath Mohamed Didi, the outgoing high commissioner of Maldives, Shringla expressed happiness at the “positive transformation in the bilateral ties over last fourteen months, since President (Ibrahim Mohammed) Solih came to power," the statement said. The foreign secretary “underlined the special place that Maldives holds in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy" which he said was in sync with Maldives ‘India First’ policy. He congratulated Maldives on its recent readmission into the Commonwealth group of nations, the statement said.