Foreign Secretary Shringla flags increased radicalism in Europe

Foreign Secretary Shringla flags increased radicalism in Europe

Foreign Secretary discussed challenges from China, Pak. at talks in Germany

Referring to the recent incidents of violent attacks in France, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla took a tough line on “radicalism in Europe” during his official meetings in Germany on Monday. He also stressed on India’s concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, the military standoff at the Line of Actual Control with China, and cross-border attacks from Pakistan.

“As you know, India has faced multiple challenges in the recent months due to the pandemic, tensions on our northern border [China] and the ever-present menace of terrorism on our western border [with Pakistan],” Mr. Shringla is understood to have said, without naming either country, at the start of talks in Berlin with German Foreign office and Chancery officials on Monday.

Sources said the Foreign Secretary told his German interlocutors that Europe is witnessing a “manifestation of radicalism and extremism”, saying that knife and shooting attacks in France linked to Islamist radicals in the past week vindicates India’s stand that “terror knows no boundaries”.

“Unfortunately, the terrorists are united in purpose and action while we, the victims, are yet to be so. Ironically some countries who are the fountainhead of terror are practising dissimulation and claiming to be victims of terror to gain international sympathy,” he told German officials, in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the attacks as a form of “Islamophobia”.

Mr. Shringla also said like-minded countries must work to together to disrupt terror networks that are both “underground and on the Internet”.

Mr. Shringla, who is on a week-long 3-nation tour of Europe, visited Paris prior to travelling to Berlin, and will travel next to London. In Paris, Mr. Shringla had carried a similar message on the radicalism that fuelled “lone-wolf” attacks in France.

Mr. Shringla also referred to India’s “multiple challenges” from China, Pakistan and the pandemic, in remarks to think-tanks he met in Berlin, said sources. These mirrored statements in Paris where he said the tensions at the LAC represented the “worst crisis in decades on our border with China”, asserting that India had dealt with the PLA aggression with “firmness and maturity”.

In a suggested reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Mr. Shringla added that “debt trap diplomacy in the garb of improving infrastructure and connectivity” constitutes a threat to the sovereignty of nations, and welcomed Germany’s new strategy for the Indo-Pacific, which assigns an important role for India.

Referring to China in an interview published in an Australian newspaper on Monday, German Defence Minister Anne Kramp-Karrenbauer also said Germany does not “turn a blind eye on unequal investment conditions, aggressive appropriation of intellectual property [] or attempts to exert influence by means of loans and investments.”

Foreign Secretary Shringla has made the Indo-Pacific policy a key focus of his Europe visit, and after France and Germany, is expected to make a significant speech on India’s Indo-Pacific policy at leading think-tank, Policy Exchange, in London on Wednesday.

Mr. Shringla said the Indian economy had begun to recover from the shock from the pandemic and the lockdown, and government reforms had helped rebuild “consumer sentiment and investment” in the country. He called on German companies to increase their focus on bilateral trade with India, contrasting the combined size of the Indian and German economies at €5 trillion ($5.82 trillion) with bilateral trade volume of just €19 Billion ($22.1 billion), which he said indicated potential for much more.

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