PM's US itinerary: Address at UNGA, nearly 20 bilaterals, Houston diaspora event
New Delhi, Sep 19: The focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's week-long visit to the US from Saturday to attend the UNGA will not be on terrorism, but on highlighting India's achievements and its global role, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Thursday.
He also asserted that abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir was an internal issue and off the agenda at the UN.
Apart from addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, Modi's schedule includes a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump in New York and a diaspora event in Houston which will also be attended by the American leader.
During his stay, Modi intends to hold as many as 20 bilateral meetings with leaders from all continents, Gokhale said, adding the meetings are being finalised.
Amidst attempts by Pakistan to internationalise Kashmir issue, especially, after Article 370 provisions were abrogated, Gokhale said,"if they wish to dwell on this issue in the speech by their Prime Minister, they are welcome to do so."
"Article 370 is an internal issue, there will be no discussion on it in the UN, we will have no discussion on it," he said when asked if India would share its perspective during his high-level bilateral and multilateral meetings in the US.
"Our Prime Minister will focus on what the high-level segment of the UNGA is meant to focus on which is -- as an important economy, as an important country, as a responsible member of the UN -- PM will flag what we are doing for development, for security, for peace and our expectations and aspirations of other countries," the foreign secretary said.
Prime Minister will raise several issues such as development, climate change and other bilateral and multilateral issues "of which terrorism is one, but the focus will not be on it, but on the role of India at the international platform," he added.
On Trump's repeated comments offering mediation on the Kashmir issue, Gokhale said Modi had made India's position very clear on the issue in front of the media after a meeting with the US President last month in Russia.
"I do not wish to add anything further to what was a very clear and comprehensive statement. India does not see a role for anybody mediating on this matter," he asserted.
The Prime Minister at the UNGA and in his bilateral and multilateral meetings will reiterate India's position that multilateralism is at the centre of global politics and should remain so, he said while noting that the current form was not in sync with the ground realities.
By any yardstick, be it by population, size of the economy, participation in peacekeeping operations, in Sustainable Development Goals, India is a befitting candidate for the permanent membership in a reformed UNSC, he said.
Giving details of Modi's schedule in the US, Gokhale said Modi will arrive in Houston and head straight into his first business event --a round table with several chief executives from the energy sector.
On September 22 morning, the highlight will be the Prime Minister's address to the Indian community -- his third in the US after Maddison Square Garden in 2014 and San Jose in 2015.
"We are expecting more than 50,000 people from the diaspora and it will be the largest that he (Modi) has done in the US," Gokhale said.
President Trump and several elected Congressional representatives from both Democratic and Republican parties will be present at the event, he said.
The Prime Minister is expected to have a separate interactive session with members of the US Congress after which he will leave for New York.
On September 23, there are several multilateral events lined up beginning with the Climate Summit organised by UN Secretary General Antonio Guetteres which Modi will be attending.
The Prime Minister, in his remarks, will showcase what india has done to address climate change issues and also spell out India's expectations and aspirations from the international community to address "this very pressing problem", Gokhale said.
Other events will include a leadership dialogue on the strategic responses to terrorists and violent extremist narratives, he added.
As the world commemorates Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, India will also host a special event 'Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World' on September 24 where Modi will be joined leaders of countries such as New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore.
The event will also see inauguration of Gandhi Solar Park -- installation of solar panels on the roof top of UN headquarters in New York from India's grant of USD 1 million as also opening of the Gandhi peace garden at the state university of New York campus of Old Westbury through remote control, and release of a UN postage stamp on Gandhi.
During the visit, the Prime Minister will receive an award by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for the Swachh Bharat campaign.
On September 25, the Prime Minister will deliver a keynote address at the plenary of the Bloomberg global business forum.
This will be followed by an investment rountable that India is organising with 40 major companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mastercard, Visa, Amway, J P Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, and Walmart.
After delivering his address at the UNGA on September 27, Modi will leave for India.
Modi will also co-chair two important plurilateral meetings -- India Pacific Islands Leaders meeting and India-Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will also be in New York and will have several meetings with foreign ministers of various countries.
Separately, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will also be in New York and will engage with groups such as Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), BRICS and Commonwealth.
After Prime Minister leaves New York, EAM will be on a bilateral visit to Washington to meet with various political and economic leaders, Gokhale added.