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India, other countries feeling weight of ‘big’ nation: German envoy

New Delhi: India and other countries feeling the weight of a “big and powerful nation” should sit together and see how to deal with the situation, German Ambassador Phillip Ackermann has said in a thinly veiled reference to China’s increasing muscle-flexing in the region including the Indo-Pacific.

The German ambassador also said that India should play the role of a “guide” in the overall global efforts to ensure a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific.

“India has an unsolved border conflict. This is something weighing on India and it is a difficult chapter to deal with very clearly. I feel that the whole region is feeling this weight of this big and powerful nation,” he told PTI.

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The ambassador said all countries of the region should sit together and try to figure out “what one can do to contain an overpowerful neighbour”.

His remarks came when asked about China’s aggressive military behaviour in the region including along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“I must say that I see (it), being here. You feel this tension. It is not something one should neglect or be naive about,” the ambassador added.

The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

There has been no progress yet on resolving the standoff in the Demchok and Depsang regions of eastern Ladakh though the two sides withdrew troops from a number of friction points following a series of military and diplomatic talks.

Asked about India’s vision for an inclusive Indo-Pacific, the ambassador said the country can guide others in many ways as he referred to New Delhi’s role in the four-nation coalition Quad and other such forums.

Referring to Germany’s policy for Indo-Pacific, Ackermann said it is reflective of Berlin’s clear to this region.

“We see exactly the tensions you described, the muscle-flexing, we see the Taiwan problem and others. So you will see more of Germany in this region,” he said.

“You will certainly see more Germany in this area because we clearly see that this is an area that needs more attention and also needs more visible commitments from other parts of the world,” the envoy said.

Asked about External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s comments following the Ukraine conflict that Europe remained silent on many developments in Asia, Ackermann suggested that there is a need to ponder over the remarks of the “very capable” minister.

At the same time, Ackermann cited the example of Afghanistan, to emphasise that Germany has been very committed to that country.

“I would say that when it comes to Afghanistan, my country has been very committed to Afghanistan, and has really spent billions of dollars but also has suffered a lot in Afghanistan as many soldiers have died,” he said.

“So our Afghanistan commitment stands out. But the result, of course, is not what we wished. We wanted to have different results,” he noted.

Jaishankar’s response had come when he was asked at an interactive session a few months back why he thinks anyone will help India in case of a problem with China after it did not help others for Ukraine.

“Yes, we could have been more outspoken, but you have to ask for it also,” he said adding, If anyone wants international involvement, then it must be asked for.

“That’s what we did with Ukraine. We said the world must come together to condemn what the Russians are doing. That was successful. So, if international involvement is required, then voices must be heard to get this international involvement,” he said.

“But I think we have learnt over the last years that certainties are not certain anymore and every corner of the world somehow matters to the rest of the world. So that is also very important for this region,” he said.

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