New Delhi: India on Friday asserted that it has always pursued an independent foreign policy based on its national interest and that its vision for the Indo-Pacific region is not directed against any country. The assertion came two days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Western powers of pursuing an "aggressive and devious" policy to engage New Delhi in "anti-China games" by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies.
Reacting to Lavrov's comments, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India stands for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and that its relations with Russia stand on their own merits. "As unequivocally outlined by the Prime Minister during his speech at the Shrangi-La dialogue in June 2018, India does not see the Indo-Pacific region as a strategy or as a club of limited members or as a grouping that seeks to dominate. It is not directed against any country. It stands for a free, open and inclusive region," Srivastava said.
His response came at a media briefing when asked about Lavrov's remarks. Speaking at a meeting of the state-run think-tank Russian International Affairs Council on Tuesday, Lavrov accused the US-led West of attempting to "undermine" Russia's close partnership and privileged relations with India.
Lavrov said: "India is currently an object of the Western countries' persistent, aggressive and devious policy as they are trying to engage it in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies, the so-called 'Quad'." The Quad or Quadrilateral coalition comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia, and its primary focus has been to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. "India has always pursued an independent foreign policy based on its national interest. India's relationship with each country is independent of its relations with third countries. We hope that this is well understood and appreciated by all our partners," Srivastava said.
The MEA spokesperson also referred to India's long-standing relations with Russia, which he said is characterised by a 'Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership'. "This year marks the 20th anniversary of our strategic partnership with Russia. Our relations with Russia stand on their own merits including in the sphere of military technical cooperation," Srivastava said.