The BRICS NSAs have met on the sidelines of each summit. Russia hosted a formal meeting of BRIC NSAs in May 2009, when South Africa had not then been included in the grouping, to discuss the security implications of the global financial and economic crisis.
The New Delhi meeting will be the fourth meeting of BRIC NSAs, but the first time they will hold a structured meeting of the grouping.
The meeting will discuss the major international security-related issues that would come up for the five nations’ top leadership during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, in March. The Durban summit will provide the very first opportunity for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to interact with the new Communist Party of China leader Xi Jinping on the meeting’s sidelines.
Two burning contemporary hot spots will come under the scanner of the BRICS NSAs during their upcoming meeting in New Delhi: the situation in Syria and the developments over sanctions-hit Iran. China and Russia have proactively batted for both Syria and Iran.
The meeting will also have a sharp focus on subjects like the situation in the Middle East and cyber-security, the latter being a major area of interest for the international community in general and BRICS in particular.
The upcoming event will be of special interest for China and India. There will be significant takeaways for China-India bilateral relations from the meeting as the Chinese point man Dai Bingguo, China’s longest-serving chief negotiator on security-related issues as well as the most important designated Chinese official for the vexed boundary dispute with India, is expected to hold crucial bilateral meetings with the Indian top brass.
This will also be Dai’s farewell visit to India, as he signs off after a decade of engagement with his Indian interlocutors. During this period, Dai has been the unchanged Chinese chief negotiator on all security-related and Sino-Indian boundary dispute issues, while his Indian counterparts kept changing. Dai has interacted with the first Indian NSA Brajesh Mishra, followed by JN Dixit, MK Narayanan and the present NSA Shivshankar Menon.
Indian diplomatic sources said Dai would be given a fitting farewell as he is likely to have meetings with the top Indian political leadership, including External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and possibly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself. However, the Indian government is yet to confirm these meetings.
Dai, the Chinese Special Representative (SR) designated for the Sino-Indian boundary dispute talks, met his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon in Beijing just about a month ago where a host of issues were discussed by the two senior officials.
India and China have thus far held 15 rounds of SR-level talks on the boundary dispute. Menon had observed after his talks with Dai in Beijing in December 2012 that they had discussed common grounds that had been reached on the boundary question and the broad understanding reached thus far.
The broad contours of this understanding have not been revealed by either side. But straws in the wind suggest that this understanding relates to divergent views expressed by the two sides on boundary issues.
Significantly, the year just gone by has been the year when India and China had the least problems, though the two sides witnessed numerous flashpoints of divergences. However, much to their credit, India and China have continued to build on convergences and minimize divergences. This is also the way forward for the future.
The article was first published on 9 January 13 by Global Times