MAJOR MISSION: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his way to the BRICS Summit in Brazil, arrives at the Tegel Military Airport in Berlin on Sunday.
To discuss peace and stability at a time of security threats
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to the Brazilian resort city of Fortaleza on Sunday ahead of the sixth BRICS Summit, with bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled within a few hours of landing there.
Ahead of flying to his transit halt in Berlin, the Prime Minister made it clear that global politics would be a major part of his agenda at the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit. “We meet at a time of political turmoil, conflict and humanitarian crisis in several parts of the world, and persisting weakness and risks in the global economy. I look at the BRICS Summit as an opportunity to discuss with my BRICS partners how we can contribute to international efforts to address regional crises, address security threats and restore a climate of peace and stability in the world,” his statement said.
Mr. Modi has already held preparatory meetings with Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi’s envoys, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitryi Olegovich Rogozin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in Delhi.
Infrastructure investments in India, increasing bilateral trade and reducing trade deficits are expected to be at the top of the agenda. Mr. Modi is accompanied by Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was earlier expected to travel with him, has stayed back for the Budget session.
The Fortaleza Declaration on Tuesday will contain the big announcement of the BRICS “New Development Bank” and contingency reserve fund, initiatives first pushed by India. It is expected to repeat the BRICS countries’ endorsement of India, Brazil and South Africa’s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and have a firm recommendation on Security Council reform to enable that.
The BRICS leaders are likely to discuss the crisis in Iraq, escalating violence in Gaza and Ukraine and the U.S. revelations on National Security Agency surveillance as well. Host Brazil had taken a stern position on the U.S. surveillance of its President Dilma Rousseff’s communications, leading her to cancel her visit to the U.S. last year.
In his three days in Brazil, Mr. Modi is expected to meet more than a dozen heads of State, marking his first major challenge in diplomacy. On Wednesday, all BRICS leaders will head to Brasilia to meet South American leaders, where, an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said, several bilateral meetings are expected.
No meeting with Merkel
The Prime Minister’s first stop on the way to the BRICS meeting, Berlin, however did not prove as fruitful, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup Final.
In what is seen as a diplomatic embarrassment, the Prime Minister’s entourage had even diverted its flight from the original plan of Frankfurt while planning the trip to the German capital to allow a possible dinner meeting on Sunday. Ministry sources confirmed that no meeting was scheduled on the return leg on Thursday either, as the Prime Minister would be flying back via Frankfurt. However, Mr. Modi’s hotel near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate assured him a view of thousands of football fans gathered to watch the match.