Eye on polls in neighbourhood
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Deft diplomacy will be called for in the new year as three countries in India's neighbourhood will get into election mode — Pakistan, Maldives and Bangladesh, in that order.
South Block will be gauging the political scene in these countries before it commits to any deliverables over the next year. Officials say since all these countries will be grappling with domestic issues, expectations remain modest on the diplomatic front.
A visit to Pakistan by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, though unlikely before the elections in that country, could become the surprise element in 2013.
While it will be expectedly quiet in the neighbourhood, a major meet in South Africa — the BRICS summit in the last week of March — will offer an opportunity to the Prime Minister to come face-to-face with new Chinese President Xi Jinping. This will be their first meeting after the once-a-decade change in the Beijing leadership.
In June 2013, New Delhi will host the IBSA summit, which will again bring together the group which has spoken in one voice on conflict situations in 2012, especially on Syria.
The Prime Minister will be headed for G-20 in St Petersburg in Russia, sometime in autumn.
By the end of the year, in November, the meeting of foreign ministers of ASEM — a grouping of 45 Asian and European countries —will take place, as they will be congregating in Delhi.
While these large summits will occupy substantial attention, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will travel to Latin American countries this year. He is also expected to adhere to his commitment of visiting all the neighbouring countries.
And, of course, India's engagement with the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, will hold the key to New Delhi's relations with the Barack Obama Administration in its second term.
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