Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a G-20 Summit session in Rome on Saturday said India is ready to produce over 5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of next year to help the world in the fight against the pandemic. On the sidelines of the summit, Modi interacted with world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, exchanging pleasantries and showcasing a spirit of camaraderie, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, briefing reporters on the prime minister’s engagements in Rome.
Shringla said Modi will attend an event hosted by Biden on “Supply Chain Resilience” and hold other bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit on Sunday.
Modi said also stressed the ‘One Earth, One Health’ vision of a collaborative approach in dealing with the deadly disease. The prime minister in his intervention at the session on “global economy and global health” also flagged the issue of facilitating international travel and talked about the mechanism of mutual recognition of vaccine certification as a means of achieving this, Shringla added. Modi expressed satisfaction over the G20’s decision to come up with a 15 per minimum corporate tax to make the global financial architecture more “just and fair”.
The decision is aimed at ensuring that companies pay a certain amount of tax in countries they are located in, Shringla said.
“It is pertinent to mention that it was in 2014 that the prime minister had first proposed the idea of a minimum corporate tax in order to prevent to some extent evasion of taxes,” Shringla said.
Shringla said the prime minister also stressed on the need for facilitating international travel and spoke about having a mechanism of mutual recognition of vaccine certification as a means for this. Noting that the WHO approval for the emergency use authorisation for Covaxin, India’s indigenous vaccine, is pending, India suggested that a nod for the jab will help India assist other countries.
Modi also invited Pope Francis to visit India as he called on the head of the Catholic Church at the Vatican in their first-ever one-to-one meeting. At the Vatican, Modi was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. It was the first-ever one-to-one meeting between Modi and Pope Francis. Briefing reporters on Prime Minister Modi’s historic meeting with the 84-year-old Pontiff, Shringla said the two leaders did not discuss the exact dates of the papal visit.
“The Prime minister said ‘Please visit India at your earliest convenience. Obviously, the actual details will be worked out though diplomatic channels,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister did invite the Pope. The significance of the invitation is well known to us. The last Papal visit to India was in 1999 when Pope John Paul II visited India. It is obviously going to be a very important visit for both India to receive His Holiness and for the Pope to visit India,” he said.
“The Pope was delighted to visit India. Although he has never visited India, he has a great sentiment about our country and he said ‘this is the greatest gift you have given me, I am really looking forward to visit India’,” Shringla quoted the Pope as saying.
Modi interacts with world leaders on the sidelines of G-20 Summit
Apart from Biden and Macron, Modi met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In a series of photos tweeted by the PMO India, Modi is seen meeting Biden, Macron, Johnson and Trudeau.
“On the sidelines of the @g20org Rome Summit, PM @narendramodi interacts with various leaders,” the PMO said in the tweet.
In the pictures, Modi is seen walking with Biden in a half embrace, apparently sharing chitchat. Biden hosted Modi at the White House on September 24 for their first in-person meeting. In other photos, Modi is seen embracing Macron and engaged in an animated discussion with Trudeau and Johnson.
World leaders pose for a ‘family photo’
All the world leaders participating in the G-20 Summit, including Modi, gathered for a “family photo”.
“World leaders meet in Rome for the @g20org Summit, an important multilateral forum for global good,” the PMO tweeted.
Modi holds bilateral meeting with Macron
Modi held a bilateral meeting with Macron. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the state of the wide-ranging India-France Strategic Partnership, an official statement said. The prime minister also welcomed the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, released in September, and thanked the French president for France’s leadership role in the same. The two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the Indo-Pacific and to find new and innovative ways to contribute towards a free, open and rules-based order in the region, the statement added.
The two leaders discussed the forthcoming COP26 and the need to focus on issues of climate finance. The PM also invited Macron to visit India at the earliest opportunity.
Modi invites G-20 members to make India partner in economic recovery
“PM Modi invited G20 countries to make India their partner in economic recovery and supply chain diversification. He also brought out the fact that despite challenges of the pandemic, India continued to be a trusted partner in the context of reliable supply chains,” Shringla said.
RSS welcomes Modi meeting Pope Francis in Vatican
The RSS welcomed Modi’s meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican saying that the meeting was enhancing the prestige of the nation.
“What is wrong if the head of the government meets anyone in the existing civil system in the world? We welcome it because we believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family). We respect all the religions,” the RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale told reporters.
“It is a matter of pleasure that the Prime Minister is meeting the heads of other nations and is increasing the prestige of our nation,” Hosabale said.
He also maintained that it was for the head of the government to meet another head of the government and the decision is left to the government whom they want to meet.
Catholic Bishops’ Council calls PM’s decision to invite Pope ‘historic’
The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), a body of Catholic Bishops in the State, welcomed the meeting between the PM and Pope Francis by saying the decision to invite the pontiff to India was a historic one.
(With inputs from agencies)