Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal
New Delhi: In the backdrop of India rejecting a World Trade Organisation agreement on trade facilitation – a move that shocked the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told the United States that his government`s first commitment is towards the poorest people of the country.
During a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker here on Friday, Modi said that developing nations face the challenge of tackling poverty and that their governments` first responsibility is to address that problem.
Developed countries should "understand" this challenge, the PM stated.
"The first responsibility of my government is to the poorest people of the country. While we don`t oppose the agreement, we believe that the needs of those living on the margins of society, not just in India but elsewhere too, have to be addressed," Modi told Kerry during the meeting, as reported by a leading English daily.
"Prime Minister emphasized the need for developed countries to understand the challenges of poverty in developing countries and their governments` responsibilities in addressing them when discussions take place in international forums," a PMO statement said yesterday.
After India took a tough stance on the issue of foodgrain holding and food subsidy at the WTO talks in Geneva Thursday night, the US had blamed the country for failure of the negotiations.
Kerry was reported to have told Modi during the meeting that India`s position on the WTO agreement was sending confusing signals to the international community.
"I think the PM is on record to have said that development challenges that developing countries face are something that should be understood by all,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin later said.
"India, as a developing country, has challenges and responsibility to ensure food supplies to all its people and that is reflected in our stance. That stance takes into account our needs. If other countries have a different stance, we understand their perspectives because they come from a different direction," he stated.
Akbaruddin added "our direction is determined by our current circumstances which require us to provide food security for a significant number of people and that is what the PM has said."
The government has, meanwhile, said that it could sign the global trade deal as early as September if other WTO member nations agree to India`s demand for more freedom to subsidise and stockpile foodgrains than is allowed by WTO rules.