India needs to take to logical conclusion its “bold” initiative to invite SAARC leaders to Prime Minister’s swearing-in and pursue concrete steps to make permanent the advances in its relations with neighbours, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.
Addressing the sixth conference of Ambassadors and High Commissioners, the President termed extension of invitation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to SAARC countries to attend his swearing-in last May as a demonstration of “dynamism and bold leadership” by India.
“That initiative must be followed through to its logical conclusion through incisive diplomacy even as we remain firm in protecting our security and putting in place impregnable security mechanisms,” he said.
The President said last eight months have seen “new vigour and dynamism in India’s foreign policy” and listed the visit of US President Barack Obama. “The visit was of substantive importance and not just symbolic,” he said.
Mukherjee said one adage which never goes stale in international politics is ‘You can choose your friend but not your neighbour.’
Without naming Pakistan, he said, “A strong message was conveyed to our neighbours that the region must decide whether to live in perpetual tension or understanding. Our initiatives in the neighbourhood must be followed up with concrete steps to consolidate and make permanent the advances we make in our relations.”
During Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to attend Modi’s swearing-in May, the two leaders had agreed on talks between their Foreign Secretaries in a bid to break the two-year-old stalemate in bilateral dialogue process.
However, angered by Pakistan’s consultations with Kashmiri separatists, India had called off the talks in August.