New Delhi: Ahead of India assuming Chairmanship of Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) Plenary starting January 1, 2023, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar is going to Austria on a three-day visit from January 1 where he will have a meeting with the Director General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi.
The Wassenaar Arrangement’s secretariat is located in its capital Vienna and India will hold the Chairmanship for one year. This will be the first EAM level visit to the European nation in 27 years and it takes place at a time when the two countries will celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations next year.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) during his visit to Austria, Jaishankar will meet the Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg. The two ministers have met thrice this year – on the sidelines of international meetings – in New York, Munich and Bratislava. The Austrian minister visited India in March this year.
On the agenda of Jaishankar is also a meeting with the Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer and later interacting with the Diaspora there. According to the MEA, Jaishankar will have a meeting with foreign ministers of Czech Republic Jan Lipavský, Slovak Republic Rastislav Káčer, and Austrian Federal Minister Schallenberg. The focus during the meeting will be on global and regional issues.
Prior to his visit to Austria, Jaishankar will also be on official visit to the Republic of Cyprus according to MEA. The visit is between December 29-31, 2022 as this year marks 60 years of diplomatic relations. The agenda includes a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs. He will also call on Annita Demetriou, President of the House of Representatives and will later address the business and investment community of RoC. And he is also scheduled to interact with the Indian Diaspora there.
Keeping in mind the recent spurt in activity and investments in defence and space sector, for India this is of significance. Since India will hold the chair for a year and is expected to play an important role in democratising access to processes and technologies that are likely to play a critical role for the emerging space and defence manufacturers in the country. And in the global non-proliferation architecture this will help establish India as a responsible stakeholder.
The meeting with DG of IAEA comes at a time as the war between Russia and Ukraine has escalated and it is almost 12 months since it started. And in the war the fear of nuclear war is renewed as reports in the public domain suggest that nuclear weapons could be used by the warring sides.