Cricket on Wednesday became an analogy to highlight the warm ties between India and New Zealand as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and John Key drew references from the game to stress on the progress made in their bilateral equation.
The references came on a day when India were taking on New Zealand in the fourth match of a five-game ODI series. Modi was the first to speak in the joint press briefing that followed the exchange of agreements between the two nations.
Referring to the ongoing ODI series, Modi said some cricketing terms were apt description of the progress made in the two countries’ bilateral ties.
“In a little while from now, our cricket teams will take the field in Ranchi for the fourth one-day international. In many ways, some of the cricketing terminology reflects progress in our bilateral linkages. In our ties, we have moved from fielding at long off to taking a fresh guard at the batting pitch. Defensive play has given way to aggressive batting,” Modi said.
Key was not to be left behind and quipped that he is thankful to Modi for not raising his country’s poor performance in the series so far. New Zealand were whitewashed 0-3 in the Test series and are trailing in the ongoing five-match ODI series as well.
“You have spoken about the cricket taking place in India but gracious enough not to be talking about the fact that India has been triumphing over New Zealand,” Key said in a lighter vein.
“We are of course trying to build as warm and as close a relationship with India as we can and we have gone to the extraordinary lengths of ensuring that former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum is now playing for Gujarat. So we are truly committed to the relationship between New Zealand and India,” Key said referring to McCullum’s IPL association with Gujarat Lions, the franchise based in Modi’s home state Gujarat.
The two countries also agreed to strengthen ties in key areas of trade, defence and security during talks between Modi and his Kiwi counterpart.
Key assured that his country will contribute ‘constructively’ to the process currently underway in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to consider India's membership.
After the ‘productive’ talks between the two prime ministers, the two sides inked three pacts including one pertaining to Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and decided to establish foreign minister-level dialogue as well as exchanges on cyber issues.
Asserting that they had detailed and productive discussions on all aspects of the bilateral engagement and multilateral cooperation, Modi, at a joint media event with Key, said, “I am thankful to Prime Minister Key for New Zealand's constructive approach to the consideration of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.”
There was no clear word of support on India’s entry into 48-nation NSG from the visiting leader, who only said, “New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.”
Noting that they had a ‘detailed’ discussion on India’s NSG bid, Key also said, “New Zealand is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible.”
New Zealand acknowledged the ‘importance to India of it joining the NSG’, a joint statement issued after the talks said, adding that India stressed that this would provide the predictability necessary for meeting India’s clean energy goals in the context of the Paris agreements.
New Zealand was one of the countries that took the stand at the last NSG plenary in South Korea in June that no exception can be made in the case of India, not a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, while considering its membership bid of the elite group that regulates trade in nuclear material. At the plenary, despite strong US support, China had blocked India's bid on the ground that it was a non-NPT country.
On security and counter-terrorism ties, Modi said they have agreed to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalisation, including in the domain of cyber security.
According to the joint statement, the two prime ministers agreed to enhance cooperation, bilaterally as well as in the framework of United Nations and especially in 1267 Committee, to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations.
‘They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism. Both sides called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would contribute to the further strengthening of the international counter-terrorism legal framework,’ it added.
Photographs: Press Information Bureau