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Transcription of Sound-bite by Foreign Secretary on BRICS and India-China Bilateral Meeting

November 30, 2018

Foreign Secretary, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Prime Minister had two important engagements this morning prior to the start of the G20 Summit. First was the meeting of the BRICS Heads of State and Government. During this meeting all the five leaders made important statements and there was a complete unanimity of views, both on the international political situation and on the international economic situation. They all agreed that international and multilateral training institutions and processes must be supported, they must be reformed, there must be an avoidance of unilateralism, that protectionism needs to be countered and that the BRICS countries have a major contribution to make in all these processes.

In particular Prime Minister made a couple of important points. Firstly, he spoke of the need of reforms of multilateral institutions including the United Nations and its Security Council and in that regard he said that all countries should speak with a single voice.

Secondly, the Prime Minister said that as beneficiaries of global growth India as well as other BRICS countries should make whatever contributions they could to shore up the global trading and financial system and to bring reforms into it so that emerging economies could get a voice.

Prime Minister also highlighted the issue of economic offenders and the need to bring them to justice and here Prime Minister received support from the other BRICS leaders.

Finally, the Prime Minister also said that important multilateral institutions like FATF and other such institutions must be strengthened so that financing for terror and other illegal activities are curbed.

All in all the meetings of BRICS was very successful and it reflected India’s position in terms of unanimity of views of all countries on such issues.

Immediately after this BRICS meeting Prime Minister had a meeting with President Xi Jinping of China. This is the fourth meeting this year and both leaders made a particular point of saying that during these four meetings and the follow up to the Wuhan informal summit there had been a perceptible improvement in bilateral relations.

Both of them had a very detailed review of what they had agreed to in Wuhan and how it was progressed and both of them said that the progress has been made on the economic side. President Xi Jinping referred to enhanced imports of rice and sugar from India, spoke of possibility of greater import of soyameal and rapeseed. He also expressed the hope that India would import more agricultural products from China and he gave an indication that in the pharmaceutical sector there would be greater trade between the two.

On the political side both sides welcomed the visit of the Chinese Defense Minister, of the holding of the counter-terrorism military exercise next week in India and the recently concluded Special Representative talks and both leaders that there had been a positive improvement in border management along the India-China border areas following the Wuhan summit.

Both leaders also said that they were looking forward to the first meeting of the high level mechanism on people-to-people exchanges which will take place in New Delhi in third week of December when Foreign Minister Wong Yi of China travels and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will host him.

Finally, both sides also specifically mentioned that the first bilateral cooperation that had begun in Afghanistan which is the training of Afghan Diplomats, had been successful and that they were looking for further such opportunities.

Prime Minister appreciated and conveyed this appreciation to President Xi Jinping of the very prompt information that the Chinese side has shared with the Indian side in the month of October when there was a blockage in the flow of the Brahmaputra river due to a landslide and Xi Jinping in turn said that China is ready and willing to do more to cooperate on exchange of hydrological information.

Finally both leaders felt that as a result of the Wuhan Summit and the meetings taking place after that, strategic communication had been enhanced between them, trust had been built between them. There was a personal relationship and both sides were optimistic that 2018 was a good year but 2019 would be an even better year.

So all in all, I think, it was a very successful bilateral meeting between the two leaders and it reflects a new confidence and a new stability in India-China relations.

Thank you.

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