US, Russia, EU are India’s foreign policy pillars: Khurshid

Relationships with the US, Russia, the ASEAN, Africa and the European Union (EU) are the pillars on which India’s foreign policy stands today, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here Thursday.

Khurshid Thursday ended a two-day visit to Brussels after holding talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, EuAsiaNews reported.

Khurshid called for a closer and deeper cooperation between EU and India not only on bilateral level but also on the international arena.

“We need more political interaction, for example what is happening in Africa, South East Asia, what is happening in West Asia. We should be able to contribute towards the situation in these regions which are of concern to us and the European Union,” the minister said.

“I think we need to work more closely in Afghanistan, in Africa,” Khurshid said.

“If you look at Indian foreign policy today, the pillars of Indian foreign policy are a resurgent relationship that we have with the United States of America, a sustained relationship with the Russian federation, closer cooperation and collaboration with ASEAN, our resurgent and reactivated relationship with Africa and the European Union. These are the pillars on which our foreign policy stands today,” he said.

He, however, said China was not there as it was a “pillar in the making”.

“You might ask in all these pillars where is China? I think China is what I call a potential pillar. It’s a pillar in the making,” he said.

Khurshid said in EU-India relations, “trade is clearly the base without which all the other dimensions are difficult to put in place”.

“We have got a reasonably good base for trade but our ambition in both sides is that there should be a free trade agreement,” he said.

“We need to work on energy and energy security,” he said.

On relations with Pakistan, Khurshid said the recent incidents were ” a very unfortunate one and understandably of great concern both to the government and people of our country”.

“But the adverse consequences of that had to be contained by both sides because there is too much at stake, too much investments we have made in peace,” he told EuAsiaNews.

“I think by and large we have been through the worst pitfall and I think we are returning to normal without lasting damage,” he said.

He, however, added that “the issue will remain and I think it has to be addressed”.

The EU is India’s largest trading partner. Total two-way trade in goods in 2011 was worth 79.8 billion euro, with EU exports to India worth 40.4 billion euro and imports from India worth 39.4 billion euro.

This represented a year-on-year increase of 17 percent from 2010. In 2011, EU-India total trade in services amounted to 20.4 billion euro.

The EU has, in recent years, been the biggest external investor in India, with a cumulative volume of about 33.6 billion euro between 2000 and 2011.