India Urged To Play Active Role In West Asia

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In a rare first, Russia and China have urged India to actively mediate between Israel and Palestine. Moscow and Beijing are trying hard to convince New Delhi to get onboard, as the proposed move will allow BRICS – an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – to get directly involved in persuading Israel and Palestine for resuming the peace process.

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China’s Special Envoy to West Asia Gong Xiaosheng recently discussed the issue with senior officials of Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Gong told the MEA officials that BRICS should play a role similar to that of the so-called Quartet – EU, UN, Russia and the US. According to the seasoned Chinese diplomat, it is also important for the BRICS nations to set up a group of secretary-level officers in the troubled region. “It’s mainly a Chinese and Russian initiative. The Chinese are keen. They have been going around the capitals to create consensus,” said a senior Indian official.

Russia and China made the request after considering that India, too, is turning its attention to West Asia. At the same time, the volatile region is looking to other “neutral” global players to act as “honest brokers”. According to sources close to Beijing, an understanding in this regard can be reached by the end of February. “If agreed, this will be the first political initiative taken by BRICS,” stressed a Chinese official on Saturday.

So far, BRICS members have achieved a lot in the economic sector. Now, the bloc is ready to make a tectonic shift in geo-political terms in West Asia, where the US and Europe have so far been playing the role of external actors.

On January 23-24, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She also attended the first India-Arab Ministerial Conference in Bahrain. During her visit to the region, the Palestinian leadership requested Swaraj to convey their message to Israel that they are ready for talks for a two-state nation on 1967 borders. The Indian minister received a positive response from the Israelis, but with a rider that terror attacks must stop.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi planning to visit Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and Palestine in March-April, there is a possibility that India may accept the proposal made by the two big powers.

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