India promotes its soft power on the sidelines of NAM Summit

Venkaiah Naidu
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu while interacting with dignitaries of Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba and Venezuela

Baku (NVI): Peddling its soft power at the ongoing Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) summit here in Baku, Azaerbaijan, India has sought deeper people-to-people and economic contacts with Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba and Venezuela even as it urged Caracas to back India’s candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat for the term of 2021-22.

India’s vision of collaborative development and stronger cultural ties in NAM region was at full play when Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is representing India at the NAM summit, met Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, his Vietnamese counterpart Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, President of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros on the sidelines of the 18th NAM summit on October 25.

In the meeting with Ghani, Naidu stressed more people-to-people exchanges between India and Afghanistan to further strengthen the strategic ties between the two countries and assured to continue New Delhi’s commitment to the development partnership with Kabul.

He stressed that India wished to see a stable, secure, united, inclusive and prosperous Afghanistan. Referring to the bilateral trade which is more than USD 1.1 billion, Naidu said, “There was immense potential for growth.”

He observed that stability and prosperity will come to Afghanistan only if the gains of the past 18 years, specially the constitutional order and the rights of women, children and minorities, are preserved, said an official statement.

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While interacting with Vietnamese Vice President, Naidu spoke of the two millennia-old civilizational relationship and the historical bond of trust and friendship shared by the two nations.

Referring to his participation in the 16th UN Day of Vesak Celebrations at Vietnam in May 2019, Naidu conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the warm hospitality accorded to him in Vietnam. He expressed his happiness at the flourishing Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries with significant defence and security cooperation, economic engagement, trade and investments, cultural and people-to-people interactions, said the statement.

“Naidu observed that Vietnam, which will assume the chair of ASEAN in 2020, was not just a trustworthy friend but a key pillar of India’s Act East policy and a very important partner for India in the ASEAN.”

“He sought Vietnam’s cooperation to maintain the upward momentum in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two nations and to secure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” the statement added.

During the interaction with Cuban President, Naidu pointed out that India and Cuba were founding members of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) and said, “Both nations must continue to advocate the NAM principles such as the sovereign equality of all nations, unity of developing countries, South-South cooperation and development through inclusive growth.”

He also expressed his happiness at the progress across different spheres including the inauguration of the new PANCHKARMA center in Havana and the operationalization of the fertilizer plant in Cienfuegos.

He also appreciated the remarkable strides made by Cuba in the field of biotechnology and pharma and said “India too has made great strides in the health sector, particularly in the generic medicines. We may look for avenues of cooperation in this field.”

He thanked Cuba for its support to the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir at the UNHRC meeting in Geneva last month.

Expressing his gratitude to Cuba for full-fledged participation in the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Naidu said, “We appreciate the launch of the commemorative postal stamps by Coreos de Cuba and the planting of 150 trees at the Botanical Garden of Havana (Cuba).”

Expressing his happiness at the close and cordial relations that India and Venezuela have enjoyed, Naidu said, “2019 marked the 60th Anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic ties, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Referring to India’s efforts to boost to South-South cooperation by forging constructive development partnerships with many countries across the globe, especially in the field of capacity building, he said, “Venezuela had been an active partner in our ITEC program, with more than 200 Venezuelan professionals being trained in India in the last two decades.”

He expressed his gratitude to Venezuela for being supportive of Indian candidatures in elections to multilateral organizations and congratulated the nation for its recent victory in the UNHRC elections with India’s support.

–PS