India not part of G7; how Modi still made it

Even though India is not a member of the G7 group, the French president has personally invited PM Modi as a special guest to the Summit

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending the G7 Summit in France even though India is not a member of the G7 group. French President Emmanuel Macron has personally invited PM Modi as a special guest to the summit of the group, which originally comprises of the most industrialised nations of the world: the United Kingdom, Japan, United States, France, Canada, Germany and Italy.

The invitation, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), was a “recognition of India as a major economic power” and a “reflection of the personal chemistry” between the two leaders. Modi arrived at Biarritz on Sunday where the G7 Summit is taking place.

While the prime minister already held a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he is also expected to hold meetings with Donald Trump, the United States President, to discuss bilateral issues and trade. The Kashmir issue and the removal of certain provisions of Article 370 might be one of the main focuses of the meeting.

On the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Modi also met Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom. The talks began as Modi congratulated Johnson on England’s win in the Third Ashes Test. Ways to strengthen the India-UK cooperation were discussed by the two leaders.

Earlier this week, Modi and Johnson had spoken over phone and had agreed on the importance of strengthening bilateral partnership between the two nations through trade and economic relations.

US President Trump, whom PM Modi met on Monday afternoon, has been repeatedly asking to mediate on the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. But to the contrary, a senior US administration official, just ahead of the Summit, said that Kashmir was a “bilateral” issue.

“India’s decision to rescind Article 370 in Kashmir is an internal decision, but certainly with regional implications. And President Trump will likely want to hear how Prime Minister Modi intends to calm regional tensions in light of this significant move,” said the official.

The US official, speaking on the issue of terrorism and the issue of decreasing restrictions imposed in the Kashmir Valley, said, “Donald Trump is likely to stress the need for dialogue among all sides of the conflict and his hope that India would lift the communications and movement restrictions in Kashmir and exercise the utmost restraint in dealing with potential protests. And certainly, President Trump is also calling on Pakistan to prevent the infiltration of militants across the LoC that divides Kashmir and to crack down on groups on its territory that have attacked India in the past.”

“President Trump is very much looking forward to his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi, where they will discuss the strategic partnership and how they can cooperate more closely on issues like defense cooperation, counterterrorism, and trade,” the official added.

To find ways for India to open its markets and reduce tariffs has been the focus of the US administration.

Bilateral meetings are also expected to be held by PM Modi with the other special invitees to the Summit — Chile and Senegal. Modi is supposed to attend two sessions at the G7 Summit — the morning session on Biodiversity, Oceans and Climate and the afternoon session which is going to focus on Digital Transformation.

As the bilateral meeting between India and France was already held on Thursday (22 August), the French president and his special guest spent time together on Monday morning. President Emmanual Macron and PM Modi’s morning walk at Hotel Du Palace was scheduled at around 9:30 am.