DECEMBER 11, 2021
New Delhi: A whole host of countries from West Asia to Europe will be on the list of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign travel in 2022, all of which depends on the COVID-19 situation globally. Amid the coronavirus crisis, few VVIP visits have happened.
PM Modi visited Bangladesh in March this year, his first visit abroad since November 2019. Since the Dhaka visit, the PM has been to Washington for the Quad summit, New York for the United Nations General Assembly meet, Italy for the G20 summit and UK’s Glasgow for the climate summit. President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Dhaka later this month, his first visit abroad amid the pandemic.
It looks clear now that the Prime Minister will be travelling to the United Arab Emirates in the early January, and visit the mega India Pavilion at Dubai Expo. This will be PM Modi’s 4th visit to the country since 2014. He has travelled to the west Asian country, which has emerged as a close ally of New Delhi in 2015, 2018, 2019.
PM Modi is also expected to travel to Germany for the 6th IGC– Indo German Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) that alternates every two years between the two countries. Former German chancellor Angela Merkel had been to India for the IGC in 2019. The visit of PM Modi to Berlin will provide an occasion to meet the new Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz. Asked about the visit, German Envoy Walter Lindner in response to WION’s question earlier this year said, “You have to ask your prime minister because this is the standard because every two years either we come, or the PM comes to Germany. Merkel was here two years ago, so next year if covid allows your PM will be in Germany. So we hope it happens within next 6 months, this will be the first official meeting of the two heads of govt.”
Germany is also the chair of G7 in 2022 and remember India has been regularly invited for the summit since 2019 when France was the host of the summit. 2020 saw the then US President Trump talking about inviting India and other for the summit in the country but the summit never happened. This year the UK as the host invited India but due to the second wave of covid crisis in India, PM Modi could not visit.
A large part of the PM’s visits will be to Europe this year. He is expected to travel to Denmark for the 2nd India-Nordic summit. During the visit of Denmark PM Mette Frederiksen in October this year, she extended an invite to Modi for the Second India-Nordic summit to be convened in Copenhagen in 2022. The first Indo Nordic summit involving all the 5 Nordic countries- Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland- took place in April 2018 in Swedish capital Stockholm.
Indonesia’s Bali will see leaders of G20 grouping descending for the annual summit of 20 most powerful economies. Next year’s summit is important for India since the presidency will be handed over to New Delhi. Indonesian President Joko Widodo will hand over the presidency to PM Modi during the summit that is expected to take place in October 2022. India hosts the summit in 2023, which is for the first time the country will host the summit.
Russia will be a key stop next year for the annual India-Russia summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin was in New Delhi in December for the summit that alternates annually between the two countries. PM Modi last visited Russia’s Vladivostok in 2019 for the summit. President Putin was the only head of state/head of govt to visit India this year after Denmark PM’s visit. New Delhi in pre-covid times has been a busy capital with many world leaders visiting the country. The last major visit to India was by Myanmar’s then-President and former US President Trump in February of 2020.
Japan will be the destination for the second Quad in-person summit. Quad- grouping of India, US, Australia and Japan consolidated this year with a virtual summit followed by an in-person summit in September in Washington. The grouping whose emergency China is not very pleased with has worked on a number of issues from producing covid vaccines and Quad Principles on technology design, development, governance, and use. Japan’s in-person Quad summit is likely to take place in February according to initial indications.
In the neighborhood, Modi could travel to Sri Lanka for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Sri Lanka is the chair of the group and will host the fifth in-person summit next year. The country was expected to host the summit this year, but that did not materialize. On the agenda at the summit will be the approval of the BIMSTEC Charter, BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity & BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Grouping is also working on the finalization of the BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement. In 2019, India had invited BIMSTEC heads of government and states for PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony for the second term. After Sri Lanka, Thailand will be the host of the grouping. BIMSTEC group has been high on India’s priority, given SAARC has largely been defunct.
Rwanda is likely to be PM Modi’s destination in Africa since the country hosts the Commonwealth summit (or Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM meet). The summit has been postponed twice, in 2020, 2021 due to covid and new dates have been suggested. The PM last participated in the CHOGM summit in the UK in 2018.
Asean, SCO & BRICS
Other destinations of the PM include Cambodia for the Asean summit, Uzbekistan for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit and China for BRICS but it depends if the summit happens in person. The BRICS and Asean summits have been happening virtually for two years. SCO summit this year was in hybrid mode due to COVID crisis.
Courtesy: Zee News