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Jaishankar assures MPs over India’s engagement with neighbours

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday assured members of Parliament that India is safeguarding its interests in its neighbourhood amid rising influence of China.

Jaishankar was briefing members of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

“Animated discussion on the neighbourhood and beyond. Shared our thinking and assessment on contemporary issues,” the minister tweeted after the meeting.

Biju Janata Dal MP Sasmit Patra, a member of the committee, said interactions were very meaningful, insightful and intense.

“Discussions focused on India’s neighbourhood. Details of the deliberations in the Committee are confidential and therefore cannot be disclosed,” he tweeted.

Congress leader and former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor described the meeting as “lively” and underlined that various probing questions were asked by Rahul Gandhi.

“Just finished a lively meeting of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs today chaired by S Jaishankar. Rahul Gandhi was in his element and his probing questions elicited candid responses (both must stay off the record alas!) Parliamentary democracy in action,” he said on Twitter.

Sources said the discussions were “very fruitful” and there was “no acrimony”.

They said the minister explained and put in perspective how the government is engaging with India’s neighbours.

On the question of rising influence of China in India’s neighbourhood, Jaishankar assured the MPs that India is safeguarding its interests in the region, they said.

Besides Jaishankar, top officials of the Ministry, Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale and his successor Harsh Vardhan Shringla were also present in the meeting.

The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs constitutes Consultative Committees of members of both the Houses of Parliament, which are attached to various ministries.

The main purpose of these committees is to provide a forum for informal discussions between the government and members of Parliament on policies and programmes of the government and the manner of their implementation. 

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