‘Atal Bihari Vajpayee transformed India’s ties with US, Russia,’ says Jaishankar

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EAM S Jaishankar at the 3rd Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on 23 January 2023. Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

New Delhi: Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee transformed India’s relationship with the United States and Russia, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the third edition of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Memorial Lecture on Monday.

“The fundamental basis including respect, mutual sensitivity, and mutual interest, which we articulate today in the attempt to reach a modus-vivendi with China, a lot of it was visible when the then foreign minister Vajpayee visited China,” he added.

“In our neighbourhood, prime minister Vajpayee saw a lot of opportunities for cooperation but was never impervious to the challenges of terrorism,” he added.

Jaishankar said Vajpayee had a very nuanced and developed understanding of the contemporary world and he helped India transform its relationship with the United States.

“He transformed India’s relationship with the United States in the post-cold war environment after recognising how important that the relationship had become for India nationally and internationally,” Jaishankar said.

“He imparted continuity and stability to our ties with Russia. At a time when so many important relationships across the world were changing, there was a unique steadiness about the India-Russia relationship and a lot of it has to do with the personal understanding and the efforts that were made by Prime Minister Vajpayee,” the EAM added.

Jaishankar said that those in the security domain, associate Vajpayee with the 1998 nuclear test after which India became a nuclear weapon power.

He asked everyone to look at the diplomacy that followed the test, the fact that within two years of the test, Vajpayee had engaged all major countries across the world.

“It is the post-test diplomacy which anyone in the field of diplomacy should look at and draw lessons from. Our relationship with Japan was affected due to the nuclear test but we always drew from the prime minister the confidence that we would find a way to settle it down,” Jaishankar said.

He added that today when I look at the India-Japan relationship, I marvel at the maturity with which Vajpayee took all of us to look at that challenge. Jaishankar said that everybody knows Vajpayee as one of our great prime ministers.

“This ministry, however, has a special claim on him as a foreign minister. Not just as a foreign minister but as someone who actively contributed to foreign policy, who even shaped foreign policy as a parliamentarian,” he said.

For many of us, he was a very powerful influence well before he became a foreign minister, he said, adding that Vajpayee shaped the larger Indian national security and public policy discourse.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the tenth prime minister of India. He served three terms as the prime minister, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004.

He was one of the co-founders and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With inputs from ANI

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