New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma "interacted on several occasions" during the BRICS summit in Durban though the two sides did not hold delegation-level talks, an official said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Seeking to refute reports that the Indian delegation failed to hold a separate meeting with Zuma, who held bilateral talks with his Chinese and Russian counterparts, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said the prime minister had "adequate opportunity to interact with President Zuma on more than one occasion".
"In any multi-lateral meeting, the principals spend much time together, and this is the norm followed at the BRICS summit. The prime minister had adequate opportunity to interact with President Zuma on more than one occasion. If there is a feeling that there has not been an interaction, it is absolutely wrong," said spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in response to a media query.
Akbaruddin said that the principals met, not once but on several occasions and exchanged views on a whole host of issues, including bilateral relations.
He said the two sides did not have any "structural delegation-to-delegation-level meetings due to scheduling issues, but that does not mean that there was any problem in terms of the principals meeting."
"The principals met, not once but on several occasions and exchanged views on a whole host of issues, including bilateral relations," he added.
He also dismissed media reports that suggested it was a snub to India.
"If anybody who has followed multi-lateral meetings are aware, that time-schedules slip and it is not possible to have every goal accomplished during the days. So, yes, we did not have a delegation-level meeting," he said.
He added that the summit was structured to enhance bilateral principals' meetings.