Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held separate meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Francois Hollande and other world leaders in Hangzhou on the sidelines of recently concluded G-20 Summit.
Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in the eastern Chinese city on Sunday to attend the two-day Summit, mainly discussed bilateral issues with the two presidents. The topic of discussion between Modi and Erdogan was India’s NSG membership, as Ankara had opposed the South Asian country’s membership bid in Seoul in June. Later, he raised the issue of the confidential data leak of the Indian Scorpene Class submarines during his meeting with President Hollande. PM Modi also met his British counterpart Theresa May to discuss “building opportunities” between the two countries in the changing global geopolitical landscape. He told PM May that India was eager to boost trade ties with Britain after the UK’s decision to exit the European Union.
Senior spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup told the press that all the three meetings were crucial, as the PM tried his best to inform the world leaders about India’s global aspirations. According to Swarup, Modi’s discussion with Erdogan on NSG was significant, as Turkey agreed to back India’s bid to join the elite grouping, despite China’s strong objection. Meanwhile, President Erdogan urged PM Modi to monitor the activities of supporters of dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in India. The Turkish president believes that many of Gulen’s supporters have taken shelter in India. Gulen had allegedly masterminded the failed July coup attempt in Turkey. The two leaders further agreed to boost bilateral co-operation, with Modi announcing that India would enhance civil aviation with Turkey in the coming days.
Commenting on Modi’s meeting with President Hollande, Swarup said that the PM expressed serious concern over the leak of sensitive data related to Scorpene Class submarines. The French president assured Modi that his government would investigate how secret data of more than 22,000 pages on the capabilities of six highly-advanced submarines were leaked. The submarines are being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French defence company DCNS.
Meanwhile, the Indian PM thanked the Chinese authorities for hosting a successful G-20 Summit, saying: “Discussions at G-20 Summit were extensive and wide-ranging. I thank Chinese people and government for the great hospitality during the Summit.” Modi tweeted that the Summit in Hangzhou gave him an opportunity to meet top world leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman, Argentine President Mauricio Macri and US President Barack Obama. Ahead of the G-20, PM Modi presided over the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Leaders Meeting to finalise their stand on Hangzhou Summit. The BRICS leaders are due to attend the 8th annual Summit of the bloc in western Indian province of Goa on October 15-16.
Chinese experts, too, believe that PM Modi’s trip to Hangzhou was a successful one, as his positioning in the group photo shows his stature in the eyes of Beijing. Director of the Institute of International Affairs at the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing Wang Yizhi said that the G-20 Summit group photo threw up a thousand interpretations about where each leader stands in the hierarchy of power. He explained that the order usually followed from the front row to the row behind for group photos taken at international meetings is heads of the state (presidents and kings), heads of the government (PMs and chancellors) and representatives of international organisations. In Hangzhou, PM Modi was arranged in the first row, together with 13 leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and his positioning in the first row demonstrated China’s attention to India as a developing country and a rising power, stressed Wang.