Gurgaon, Nov. 2: Salman Khurshid today hinted he had always wished to return to the foreign ministry ever since his stint as junior minister in the mid-1990s, and had kept himself well prepared.
“The world has changed while I was away from this ministry. But since I wasn’t asleep all these years, it is not that I am rubbing my eyes and discovering a (new) world,” he said at his first news conference as the new external affairs minister.
Khurshid said he had read up all there was to read on foreign policy these past decade and a half. If proof was needed that he wasn’t out of touch with global trends, the Congress leader quickly provided it.
“I won’t use the word ‘being in great awe’ (of the foreign ministry) but I would be happy to use the word ‘awesome’,” he said. “It is a word that more people understand these days than understood in the past.”
At his meeting with foreign ministers from a regional grouping, a surefooted Khurshid suggested the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOC-Arc) change its “tongue-twister” of a name.
Khurshid mooted an Indian Ocean University for the 15-year-old forum, which included Comoros as its 20th member today. India’s suggestion that the US be made the grouping’s sixth dialogue partner was unanimously accepted, with Iran raising no objections.
At the media interaction, Khurshid fielded questions on India-Pakistan relations and the India Against Corruption campaign against him with dexterity.
He said that as foreign minister, he represented “the nation abroad, not a party. The foreign minister’s role is to represent India globally rather than getting distracted by any dissent in the country.”
Khurshid said the upcoming cricket series was in no way a “dilution of our demands and expectations” from Pakistan about action against the 26/11 plotters and wasn’t an “irreversible” decision.
He said “a degree of aloofness” was “called for” with Pakistan after the terror attack. “That aloofness was shown by our cricketing bodies... (but) if they in their assessment have come to the conclusion that there is now time to open a window, I think we should respect their decision.”
India will grant around 5,000 single-city visas to Pakistani cricket fans to watch the December-January India-Pakistan series of three ODIs and two T20s, PTI reported.
If some Pakistanis want to watch more than one match, their pleas would be considered case by case, home ministry officials said. They added that Pakistani security experts would be allowed to inspect the five venues.