External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has expressed cautious optimism about a potential free trade agreement between India and the United States.
“The extent of convergence we have with the US in terms of trade, investments and knowledge has given rise to many industries in India and we have a very unique relationship with the US,” S Jaishankar said in an interview with World Economic Forum (WEF) President Borge Brende.
The foreign minister said that India is in a unique position as a market economy. “We have relations with the advanced countries and we also have strong bonding with African and Asian countries. There is new energy in reaching out.”
Speaking about Modi government’s effort to build up its regional partnerships and connectivity, Jaishankar said, “The entire neighbourhood, minus one” is collaborating well.
“I would hope that the minus one someday comes around,” he added, referring to Pakistan.
On the Jammu and Kashmir issue, the minister said he spoke about it in detail when he was in the US and felt confident that more people were coming around to India’s position. He said that Article 370, which provided for Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, was only a temporary provision.
When asked if India would intervene as an official mediator in geo-political disputes around the globe, the minister said, “The Indian way would be very much that if you have relationships to talk about it and have conversations – but not declare yourself a mediator…and create that profile…I don’t think that’s really been our style.”
“I would like to see Indian foreign policy have a bigger influence,” he said. “But it will require a lot of thinking through, a lot of imagination and a lot of energy – and I would like to at least prepare a launching pad for it,” the Minister said in closing remarks.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar