By Sunil Garodia
As the world becomes a global village, terms like cold war and groupings like non-alignment and NATO lose their significance. Nations might not see eye to eye, yet most of them engage with each other on many levels whenever the opportunity presents. Hence, whatever their public posturing or policy decisions, President Trump and President Xi Jinping will not shy from discussing trade relations at any given opportunity. President Trump had even met North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un despite threatening the nation with “fire and fury the world had never seen”. Hence, Prime Minister Modi’s initiative in holding two trilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires must be applauded. He first met US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then held talks with President Xi and President Putin of Russia. Such meetings are dismissed by cynics as being of no consequence as nothing of importance is discussed and no decisions are taken. Yet in these turbulent times, any meeting in small groups of three or four between top leaders helps in easing tensions if any or strengthening relations.
India has shed its distrust of the West and has engaged officials from these nations on trilateral and multilateral platforms, but summit level meetings have been limited to one-to-one's. The old theory of keeping away from the US in order not to antagonize Russia and China does not hold water as both these countries have been courting Pakistan lately. The balance of power keeps shifting and new friends can be made without sacrificing old ones. India has genuine military and security-related requirements that cannot be entirely fulfilled by Russia. It has to procure from the West, including the US and even Israel. Then, there is the question of the huge number of Indians working, studying or staying in the US. Hence, India has to cement its ties with that nation. Japan has always been a great friend of India and it has the power to influence the US. Hence, a trilateral meeting between Modi, Trump and Abe was in order. Similarly, meeting Xi and Putin together can give Modi an indication of their mind vis-à-vis Pakistan. Even if nothing of importance is discussed at these talks on the sidelines of a multilateral summit, it gives the leaders a chance to meet and develop personal equations that can help in building good relations. Dismissing these meetings as being of no consequence is not correct.