These are India's primary objectives at the UN General Assembly

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  • The external affairs minister for India, Sushma Swaraj, will be representing India at the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA).
  • She has over a dozen bilateral meetings scheduled during the conferences and is scheduled to be present at two sessions.
  • In her speech at the UNGA, Swaraj focussed on India-Pakistan relations and the issue of India’s seat on the UN Security Council.
The 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) meet being held in New York is India’s chance to engage on global issues that pertain beyond its regional interests. While the Indian external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the conference, the shadow of India-Pakistan relations may keep India from engaging on larger international concerns.

Earlier India was scheduled to engage with Pakistan as well, but after the killing of three Jammu and Kashmir policemen and the issuing of stamps commemorating Burhan Wani, talks with Shah Mahmood Qureshi were cancelled.

Swaraj is still scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with the representatives of Germany, Panama Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Austria, Armenia, Antigua Barbuda, Nepal, Bolivia, Chile and Iran among others.

She will also be representing India in the session on climate change held of secretary general, António Guterres, and the Ministerial Committee of the NAM on Palestine. The latter is of special significance considering the strategic and trade relationship between India and Israel.

India-Pakistan relations

Like last year, Swaraj delivered her speech in Hindi at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit starting with India the effectiveness of the demonetisation exercise and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). While there’s still an argument to be made on whether or not GST has delivered the desired results, experts largely believe that demonetisation did little more than cause damage to India’s informal economy.

And, without naming any country in particular, Swaraj pointed out that India is busy fighting poverty but its ‘neighbouring country’ is busy fighting against the nation. She even pointed out the irony of this ‘neighbouring country’ advocating human-rights and accusing India of violations.



She went on to highlight other differences between India and Pakistan in terms of development and technology. The question really becomes whether India-Pakistan relations are the only issue that animate Indian interest on a global stage.

The focus on regional issues on the global platform keeps India from engaging with other nations on international concerns and takes from the impact that India has on other issues that are been contested. And, this is despite the country’s growing economic relevance.

UN Security Council

A permanent seat on the UN Security Council through the G4 alliance consisting of Brazil, Germany, India and Japan is still on the table. But, considering that all developments indicate that it’s unlikely to happen, maybe India should pivot its interests until the situation changes.


And while India has spent considerable time engaging in the international convention against terrorism, it has been ineffective in addressing the security challenges that concern India’s borders.

Instead, experts suggest that India should focus on addressing issues of global trade and multilateralism. The structural changes in the international system might be more pertinent at the moment.
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Foreign minister of Morocco, Nasser Bourita

Foreign minister of Morocco, Nasser Bourita

The foreign minister of Morocco, Nasser Bourita and Swaraj discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties in commerce, pharamceuticals, cyber security, defence and culture

European Union high representative, Federica Mogherini

European Union high representative, Federica Mogherini

The European Union (EU) high representative, Federica Mogherini and Swaraj met on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss regional and global issues related to trade and investment.

Foreign affairs minister of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides

Foreign affairs minister of Cyprus,  Nikos Christodoulides

Both countries focussed on discussing issues related to their joint intiatives with respect to international organisations and the expansion of bilateral cooperation.

G-4 meeting

G-4 meeting

Swaraj met with the foreign ministers of Germany, Japan and Brazil to discuss the possibility of expanding both, the permanent and non-permanent, categories of membership. They further discussed ways in which the council could be reformed.

Foreign minister of Suriname, Deborah Pollack-Beighle

Foreign minister of Suriname, Deborah Pollack-Beighle

India and Suriname met on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss ways to increase cooperation in traditional medicine, pharmaceuticals and capacity building.

Foreign minister of Estonia, Sven Mikser

Foreign minister of Estonia, Sven Mikser

The foreign minister of Estonia, Sven Mikser and Swaraj talked about how Estonia and India could further their bilateral relationship through cooperation in IT, trade, investment, culture, education and tourism.

Prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama

Prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama

Swaraj and the Prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, also met on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss how cooperation between the two countries could increase in the areas of defence cooperation, capacity building and development assistance.

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO)

Swaraj met with leaders and respresentatives of GOPIO to discuss ways in the which the Indian disapora could contribute towards India's development.

Foreign minister of Mongolia, Damdin Tsogtbaatar

Foreign minister of Mongolia, Damdin Tsogtbaatar

Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne

Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne

Foreign minister of Ecuador, Jose Valencia Amores

Foreign minister of Ecuador, Jose Valencia Amores

In the bilateral talks between Ecuador and India, the focus was on ways to consolidate the relationship between the two nations through trade, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, IT and capacity building.

Foreign Minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo

Foreign Minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo

Swaraj and the foreign minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujilo, discussed how both countries could further cooperate over issues in trade, investment, pharmaceuticals, mining, petroluem and capacity building.

Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell Fontelles

Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell Fontelles

India and Spain talked over ways to increase their engagement in investment, renewable energy, water treatment, and tourism. The representatives also discussed ways in which Spain could contribute towards India's flagship initiatives.

Foreign minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali

Foreign minister of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali

Foreign minister of Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick

Foreign minister of Liechtenstein, Aurelia Frick

Aurelia Frick, the foreign minister of Liechtenstein, and the Indian external affairs minister discussed issues pertaining to bilateral relations with respect to trade and investment. In particular, the idea of Indian trade fairs and expansion through tourism were talked about.

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