Sat, Dec 3, 2016 | updated 07:09 PM IST

'Toughest problem in India's foreign policy is its immediate neighbourhood': Foreign Secy

Updated: Sep 02, 2016 11:40 IST

Singapore, Sept.2 (ANI): Stressing on good relations with the neighbouring nations, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar hinting at Pakistan today said the toughest problem in India's foreign policy is its immediate neighbourhood.

Responding to a poser at the Indian Ocean Conference 2016, Jaishankar said, "The toughest problem in our foreign policy is our immediate neighbourhood. When we say neighbourhood first, it's not an expression of optimism, it is an expression of priority and we know that there is tough work to be done in the neighbourhood."

He also stated the India's bilateral relations with Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have improved significantly in the recent past.

"India is a country big enough to work its neighbourhood and work beyond. If we don't sensibly harmonise with our neighbourhood, we will not have the credibility to work beyond," he said.

"Any Indian government in the conceivable future will keep pushing the neighbourhood first and certainly address issues like connectivity because if you cannot travel from country to country, probably we all travel across the world but look at the state of South Asia, it is the most difficult part of the world to get around in and there's a reason for it. I think it is incumbent on the countries of South Asia to ask themselves is this the face we want to show?" he added.

The Foreign Secretary also heaped praise on the Association for South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), saying it has played a unique role in creating a collective platform.

"ASEAN may come under stress, it may talk out its way out of it but the fact is it is still the best game in town. ASEAN has been actually a nucleus around which there is a much larger Asian coagulation. That I think is a value of ASEAN which should be recognised. Today, not just ASEAN, I think non-ASEAN states also have a high stake in the unity and coherence of ASEAN and in ASEAN continuing in as a body to provide the kind of leadership that it has provided in Asia," he said. (ANI)