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Foreign minister S Jaishankar has said each of India's engagements has its own particular weight and focus, be it with United States, Europe, Russia or Japan, India is trying to ensure that all ties advance without seeking exclusivity.
China, however, falls into a different category, Jaishankar said in his address at the MIREX, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, where he was on a visit from April 27 to 29.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic Jaishankar said: "For the first time in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi articulated a comprehensive view that spanned the entirety of the Indian Ocean and its Islands. These subsequently became the building blocks for the Indo-Pacific vision that emerged thereafter. To the north, India has been similarly pursuing a strategy of connecting to Central Asia more effectively and this has taken the form of structured engagements across multiple domains".
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"These concentric circles of priority give you a conceptual sense of Indian diplomacy and one that we have pursued very assiduously over the last decade. But at a higher level, we are also practising the approach of engaging all significant centres of power, such multi-alignment reflects the reality of multi-polarity," he added.
Jaishankar said each engagement has its own particular weight and focus.
"Whether it is the United States, Europe, Russia or Japan, we are trying to ensure that all ties, all these ties advance without seeking exclusivity," Jaishankar said without mentioning China.
But further, Jaishankar added, "China falls into a somewhat different category because of the boundary dispute and the currently abnormal nature of our ties".
Making India's stand clear about China's activities at the Line of Actual Control, Jaishankar said that is "an outcome of a violation of agreements regarding border management by them".
"The rise of China and India in a parallel time frame is also not without its competitive aspects," he added.
The minister said India's most pressing priorities are obviously in its neighbourhood. Given India's size and economic strength, it is very much for the collective benefit that India takes a generous and non-reciprocal approach to cooperation with smaller neighbours.
"And that's exactly what we have done in the last decade under Prime Minister Modi and this in our region has come to be known as the Neighborhood First Policy," Jaishankar said.
India has seen a dramatic expansion in connectivity, contacts, in cooperation across the region.
"The exception to this of course is Pakistan in view of the cross-border terrorism that it supports. But whether it is the Covid challenge or more recent debt pressures, India has always stepped up for its neighbours," Jaishankar said.
India has extended more than USD 4 billion of notable economic support to Sri Lanka.
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"Beyond South Asia, India is developing the concept of extended neighbourhoods, extended neighbourhoods in all directions, with the ASEAN this has taken the form of what we call the Act East Policy, which has opened up a pathway to a deeper engagement with the Indo-Pacific that is being pursued amongst others, through a mechanism called the Quad," Jaishankar said on the expansion of India's ties.
He also said towards the West, there has been a perceptible "intensification" of India's relationship with the Gulf and the Middle East. One reflection of that is a new grouping called I2U2, comprising India, Israel, UAE and the USA. These two regions on either side have emerged as major trade and investment hubs for India, he added.
About 8 million Indians live and work in the Gulf but the relationship is much more than economic, it encompasses security, technology and strong people-to-people ties. To the South, the outlook that shapes India's thinking goes by the acronym of SAGAR, which is an Indian word for oceans.