The man’s here. India’s External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar arrived on Tuesday. At 4.29 pm (what precision!). He will meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena during this ‘official visit.’
Jaishankar is a seasoned player in foreign relations. He was a career diplomat who upon retirement was hired by Tata to be its President, Global Corporate Affairs. A former Foreign Secretary, Jaishankar was sworn in as the Minister of External Affairs in May 2019.The man knows is onions. He is credited with negotiating the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. That’s ‘peace’. Then a few months ago, he signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) with the USA, facilitating the sharing of sensitive information and intelligence. That’s about ‘peace’ too, one could argue, but who’s kidding whom here?
Let’s get the big picture.
Jaishankar’s visit is just weeks ahead of important UNHRC sessions. India is now the USA’s paw in the region. The USA is peeved that Sri Lanka didn’t bite the MCC carrot and has (diplomatically) promised repercussions. India and the USA are worried about China’s rise. The Indian Defense Secretary bad-mouthed Sri Lanka recently during a visit to Nepal, citing Sri Lanka’s relations with China. (the European Union, btw, plays along with China — add a smiley there!). India wants full control of the Eastern Terminal. An Indian company is playing hardball right now, wrecking port operations. India is setting up its port shop in the Andaman Islands.
We eagerly await the outcome of these ‘discussions’. We won’t exactly see arms being twisted but diplomats do it with tongue, a wink and a handshake. This we know.