India is taking a lead in international cooperation in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the session 'Plurilateralism Inc: The Future of Global Governance" at the Raisina Dialogue here, the Foreign Secretary said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first to see the pressing need for regional and international cooperation to deal with the crisis.
Shringla said PM Modi has also proposed a G20 Summit to address the COVID-19 pandemic. "In his address, the PM noted that the G20, which was created in response to the financial and economic crisis, was meeting for the first time to deal with a humtarian situation. The Summit took some far-reaching measures designed to support developing countries in dealing with the unprecedented crisis, including through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative," the Foreign Secretary said.
He said the Prime Minister also participated in the NAM Extraordinary Summit on the COVID pandemic.
"More recently, the first Quad Summit announced a vaccine initiative, whereby vaccines manufactured in India, financed by USA and Japan, would be supplied across the Indo-Pacific with Australian last-mile logistical support," he said.
Prime Minister Modi also convened a regional meeting of SAARC heads of state or government as early as March 2020 when the decision to move to lockdown was yet to be taken.
This regional meeting was attended by all and resulted in the creation of the SAARC COVID Emergency Response Fund and extensive regional cooperation among health professionals and supply of COVID-related health equipment.
"Nowhere has the need to consult, cooperate and coordinate with other states been felt as greatly as during the COVID-19 crisis," Shringla said.
India currently chairs the World Health Assembly and is a part of the WHO's Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) to evaluate the world's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. India worked closely with the COVAX facility, GAVI and the UN on vaccines development and supply.
The Foreign Secretary said India is part of multiple groupings, starting with the UN and its specialized agencies, extending to plurilateral constructs such as the BRICS, SCO and Quad as well as smaller and more informal trilateral meetings such as RIC and JAI.
"This is in keeping with our belief in working in close cooperation with all concerned on our regional, multilateral and global responsibilities," he said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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