It is now almost certain that Narendra Modi’s first overseas photo-opportunity will be with President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping of China.
As Prime Minister, Modi is to attend the sixth BRICS summit to be held in Brazil in July 2014 where Putin and Xi Jinping will join the host Brazilian President Dilma Roussef and South African President Jacob Zuma.
“It will be the Prime Minister-designate’s first overseas multilateral visit,” a senior MEA official said, not ruling out the possibility of it being preceded by other bilateral visits.
The sixth BRICS summit, a grouping of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was slated to be held at the seaside town of Fortaleza, north-eastern Brazil, in March but reportedly postponed at China’s request to sometime in mid-July this year.
A January 2014 blog report suggests that the summit was postponed so that Xi Jinping, a self-confessed soccer fan could watch the finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be held in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
“Modi starting off with a BRICS Summit will seen a great signal that India believes in a “multipolar world order”, ” says G Parthasarathy, former Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad. “This could be followed up by bilateral visits to Japan, Vietnam and South Korea.”
President Barack Obama dialed Modi on Friday night and congratulated him on his emphatic victory. Obama told Modi that he looked forward to working closely with him to “fulfill the extraordinary promise of the U.S.-India strategic partnership.” US officials have said that Modi is free to visit the United States, there remains a legacy of past bitterness. Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister was denied a visa to visit the US in 2005. The administration of US President George W Bush cited a 1998 law banning entry to foreigners who have committed acts violating religious freedom for the 2002 Gujarat riots where over 1000 persons were killed.
Indo-US ties were strained this year over the December 2013 arrest and detention of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York. In a May 3 interview to Aaj Tak, Modi denied any bitterness and emphasized the economic aspects of the Indo-US ties.
“There is no need to hurry a visit to Washington as it would seem undignified given how they have behaved,” Parthasarathy says adding Modi will have ample opportunity to meet Obama during the East Asian and G 20 Summits both to be held in November this year.