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External affairs ministry is undergoing change: Khurshid

July 30, 2013 16:15 IST

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday said his ministry is contemplating a plan to have people from industry on-board to facilitate on issues relating to economic diplomacy.

"External affairs ministry is undergoing a change because of the requirements that Indian diplomats may have to fulfill" he said at a Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry event in Bengaluru.

".....we are looking at innovative methods by which people will come on deputation, hopefully one day we will have more people coming from industry - join us for few years, spend couple of postings abroad and return back to their career."

He said expectations and demand from the Indian diplomatic service has changed, as have changed in the rest of the world. Stating that Indian diplomatic service is relatively small in size, he said, "we have to grow, we have a plan for doubling the size over the ten years."

"Every year the intake is increasing," he added. As of now, the ministry has 700 odd Indian Foreign Service cadre officials, and it has plans to build the strength to 1,200 by 2018.

On the public diplomacy initiative of the ministry, he said "It is essentially an outreach to add to capital diplomatic instruments and diplomatic exercise we take. It is to show what we are doing and make it more effective and add different dimension as greater public participation takes place."

Advocating modern technology to solve the issues concerning passports, Khurshid said, "personal interviews cause problem, it should be necessary in the cases only where it is required. We will find some ways for this."

"We are waiting for a survey on delivery of passports, hopefully before the end of the year there may be an announcement on how passports will reach every district and also the timeline by which it should be made available."

To a question relating to US H-1B visa, he said, "We have to be accommodative of the concerns of the other economy, we can't look at US as though only to what we want should be done and not necessarily accommodate what US wants to be done."

"When I spoke to Secretary Kerry on our concerns about H-1B, he said- he will speak for us in the senate; but they too had some concerns relating to IPR, compulsory licensing, commercialising of 123 agreement has to be solved. We are sensitive to certain specific issues and will try to address it," he added.

Stating that neighbours like Pakistan cannot be wished away and stability in that country is important for India and the region, he said, "we wish Pakistan both stability and security, we expect them to understand our legitimate concerns of preventing people from using its soil to inflict problem in India."

"We should see some progress on the matters that are deep seated concern in our country -- that is: there should not be any future betrayal of our confidence so that peace initiative on both sides can now move forward."

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