India wants good relations with Pakistan but the neighbouring country must stop terror activities directed against it as talks will get subdued under the din of bomb blasts, Sushma Swaraj said after taking charge as External Affairs Minister on Wednesday.
She also said that as external affairs minister her priority would be to showcase India’s strengths to the world and improve relations with neighbouring countries, strategic partners, Africa, Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries, Europe and others.
On the visit of the Pakistan prime minister, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had conveyed to Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday that talks between the two countries will not be effective if bomb blasts continue. “We told Pakistan that we want good relations with it. But for good relations, the talks can be effective and successful only if terror activities (directed against India) stops.”
She added, “The voice of talks gets lost in the sound of bomb blasts. That is why bomb blasts should stop so that we can talk and our voices can be heard. Talks will get subdued under the din of bomb blasts. He (Modi) conveyed it to Sharif in these many words.”
She further said that India had asked Pakistan to ensure a speedy trial in the 26/11 terror case being held in Pakistan. The Pakistani side said they were working on it.
She said the talks Modi had on Tuesday with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation leaders, who had come to attend his swearing-in ceremony, were successful. “He told the leaders that SAARC could not make an identity in the world because of bilateral issues. He said if bilateral contentious issues are left between the respective countries, then SAARC can emerge as a strong power,” Swaraj said.
“I would like to say that for the first time the SAARC leaders felt that a government and a PM who thinks out of the box has assumed power in India,” she said.
Replying to a question, Swaraj said Modi in his talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had raised the issue of fishermen as well as the reconciliation process to meet the aspirations of Tamil community in the country. “The PM raised the issue of Tamil fishermen. I have called them fishermen of Tamil Nadu from India. We have also raised the issue of 13th amendment,” she said.
India has been pressing for implementation of the 13th Amendment which was introduced to ensure certain powers to provincial councils based on the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987.
Asked what would be the new government’s approach towards the United States, Swaraj did not explain but referred to a telephonic conversation Barack Obama had with Modi and the invitation extended to him to visit US by the American president.
Swaraj said she will talk to US Secretary of State John Kerry who wanted to talk to her on Tuesday. “We could not talk as per the scheduled time on Tuesday. We will talk after rescheduling it.”
Asked whether the new government will give more weightage to countries like Japan than the US, Swaraj said it was not proper to compare relations between the two countries. “You cannot compare the relations between the two countries. We have strong trade relations with Japan. But America has its own significance,” she said
Image: Sushma Swaraj taking charge as the Union Minister for External Affairs. Photograph: PIB