(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Shishir Gupta)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla will all chair high-level meetings on topics of global importance including maritime security, UN Peace Keeping operations and counter-terrorism during the Indian presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) next month.
While PM Modi is expected to chair the meeting virtually, both EAM Jaishankar and foreign secretary Shringla will fly to New York next month to guide one month tenure of Indian Presidency in 2021. India has a two-year tenure till end of 2022 as a non-permanent member of UNSC.
Foreign secretary Shringla flew to New York this morning for a two-day meetings with the officials at the UN and finalising the Indian plans after discussion with the UN Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti in New York. During his official meetings on July 15-16, Shringla is expected to meet visiting French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian, UK minister of state and all the top dignitaries of the UN. He returns to India next Monday after attending two important UNSC sessions. Currently, India’s close ally France is the president of the UNSC.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has decided to take its UNSC tenure very seriously with both Jaishankar and Shringla expected to visit UN quite often during the two-year period. Subject to the state of global pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing the UNGA and other important meetings on the side-lines in September.
While topics like Afghanistan have now taken a priority over Libyan and Syrian crisis, the UNSC will be discussing the unfolding security situation in Kabul with the fundamentalist Taliban putting the Islamic nation to sword through military conquest. “Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria catch the attention of UNSC frequently and hence discussions on these burning topics will take place during Indian presidency,” said a UN diplomat from New York.
High level discussion on maritime security will be very important for the UNSC in the context of Indo-Pacific and freedom of navigation for unhindered global trade. Cooperation in counter-terrorism will also take priority as Afghanistan could emerge as a new epicentre of terrorism as Pakistan based terrorists groups will use the depth areas for training and targeting countries like India, US, UK and Israel, which had happened when Taliban seized Kabul in 1996. India, incidentally, currently heads the 1267 committee of the UN which designates global terrorists.