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Modi wants COVID-19 video chat with G20 leaders, but SAARC plans have yet to take off


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Prime Minister Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi | Praveen Jain /
File image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Photo: Praveen Jain | The imprint

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New Delhi: India has now offered to hold a video conference with G20 leaders to explore measures to fight the coronavirus epidemic. But the proposals discussed in a A similar exercise with leaders of ASACR on Sunday has not yet started.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has talked to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman and his His Australian counterpart Scott Morrison regarding his idea of ​​holding a videoconference with G20 leaders.

Sunday, during a videoconference with the leaders of ASACR, Modi had suggested the creation of an "Emergency Fund SAARC COVID-19" for which India had promised a contribution of $ 10 million.

But the emergency fund has not yet been set up, and so far none of the ASACR countries has officially announced how much they will voluntarily contribute to the fund. , sources told ThePrint.

The sources further indicated that no deadline had been set for the establishment of the fund, and that the government was still working on the terms of the creation of the fund and on the creation of an escrow account for this purpose.

The government, meanwhile, follows with other countries their voluntary contribution.

The sources also indicated that no timetable had been given for the implementation of other proposals.

We will start anyway and expect others to follow, said a senior government official, who did not want to be named.

A diplomat from however, one of the ASACR countries stated that there had been no follow-up from India.

We haven't heard anything from India yet. There was no follow-up. Right now, governments are all busy taking care of their nationals stranded abroad. It will take time, said the diplomat.

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Also read: From Kashmir to Coronavirus, How Modis Jaishankar's Miracle Solution Removes Problems

Proposals are moving slowly

Some of the other proposals such as the establishment of rapid intervention teams, including doctors and specialists, and the organization of equipment tests are also moving at a slow and bureaucratic pace, the sources said.

Another proposal to create a website with key information on COVID-19 in all ASACR languages ​​is yet to take shape.

Experts say the proposals should have been implemented quickly given the situation.

The Prime Minister had made it clear that there was a ready team of doctors. At least the online training modules and the website could have been created. All of these should work quickly. But all the countries and their ministers are busy with each other because the crisis is such. That said, this should have been all the more reason why things should have happened quickly, said Sharat Sabharwal, former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan.

Former Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, now a prominent fellow at Gateway House, said: The part of the implementation should be entrusted to the secretariat of SAARC or the various ministries of foreign affairs should do it.

"While the dangers of spreading the virus are high, these things take time to bear fruit at the regional level. Our neighbors are aware that India is ready to act and Delhi should start acting accordingly, "he added.

Fear of the coronavirus

India has so far reported three deaths, while Pakistan and Bangladesh have seen one death each.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan rose sharply to 212 on Tuesday, amid conflicting statements from authorities on the country's first victim due to viral infection.

Other ASACR countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives have imposed travel restrictions.

Submission to organize another videoconference

Modi presented the idea of ​​the videoconference to the Saudi Crown Prince during a telephone conversation on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia is scheduled to host the G20 summit this year.

Modi too spoke to Australian Prime Minister Morrison last week, who thinks it is a "laudable initiative".

G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Indonesia ; Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

The videoconference with the leaders of ASACR, which took place at the initiative of Modis, has been welcomed by countries like the United States and Russia. They commended India's efforts to take the lead in an unprecedented situation.

Also read: BJP will not hold protests for a month due to coronavirus, said party leader JP Nadda

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