Jan 19, 2013 at 03:09pm IST

What will be the biggest world stories in 2013?

Hello, greetings for the New Year and welcome to a whole new season of WORLD VIEW. Tonight we have a big guest on the show - India's External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid, will kick off this season and tell us just where India's foreign policy is headed this year. Also on the show we are asking that question about the big stories of 2013. With our expert panel joining us in the studio, Bernard Haykel, he is a scholar of Islamic Studies as well as professor at Princeton University in the United States. Also joining us, UN high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres and CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, is back on the show to talk about the world's big economic stories as we ask that big question in 2013- What's ahead for the world this year? What are the top five stories, that's ahead in just a bit but first what can the world expect from India this year. As the new External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has his work cut out for him in 2013. Balancing the power tussle between US and China in the region, expectations from neighbours like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Maldives and that that tricky tightrope of ties with Pakistan. For this World View's exclusive, I spoke to Salman Khurshid and began by asking him about the controversy over Cricket and the Visa given to former cricket captain Javed Miandad.

Salman Khurshid: well I see, you can't do everything by emotion alone, you have to have some objective standard that you place to yourself. A lot of people thought that we shouldn't be playing cricket with Pakistan. Now if there are people who think we should not be playing cricket with Pakistan or somebody should not be given a visa, they entirely hold that opinion, but to make that into the only news of the day, that's a bit surprising. I think it is more than clear that we haven't ever, and nobody in Pakistan has, or for that matter anywhere in the world put a question mark on Javed Miandad. That he has personal involvement or that his integrity as far as these issues are concerned is doubtful. So should we have cussed and said emotionally you are not to come. We make categories, those categories included officials who are from the Pakistan Cricket Board and of course people who wanted to come and had return tickets etc. The MHA draws out these categories and we follow those categories. Now you start making exceptions there then you got to have very strong exceptions. So I think we should leave it at that. I think the idea of cricket is to open up avenues of improving our relations. And I think there is a commitment to improving relations with Pakistan without turning a blind eye to some awful things that had happened. And we are pursuing those things as well. So, but there isn't that you do this and then improve relations .You got to move in parallel. And that's what we have done.

Suhasini Haidar: Alright, I will move on then to what you had spoken about the opening up of cricketing ties, as you are saying commitment really to improving relations with Pakistan. With cricketing ties back, would you say that relations with Pakistan are now back to the level they were before the Mumbai attacks?

Salman Khurshid: No, difficult to say that. Very difficult to say that. Because while I think one should not let emotions run riot. There is a responsibility. There is a sense of hurt and betrayal. We are conscious of that. It is not only people who've suffered the loss, but the country as a whole. And therefore these are matters you can't just turn a blind eye to. These are matters that you can't just forgive and forget. We need some closure. And that closure cannot come till we are satisfied that certain level of accountability has been established.

Suhasini Haidar: And that acceptance does not seem to have yet come from Pakistan in terms of full cooperation that India wants on the 26/11 trail in Pakistan. I ask this because Interior Minister Rahman Malik made it amply clear that Pakistan could not offer more cooperation when it came to things like voice samples, to other pieces of cooperation that India is looking for. Was it a mistake to have had him come, is it a mistake to restart this process when you don't have such that a commitment from Pakistan yet?

Salman Khurshid: If you don't start a process or restart a process you will know what disappointments you will encounter or what successes are possible. So we should have just said that we will never do it again with Pakistan. We did it after 65, we did it after 71, we did it after 82, we've done it after 92.Why should we switch off completely. But carefully, carefully factoring in dangerous, factoring in the issues that remain unsolved and looking it what signals of improvement there may be. Now, at least a trial is taking place. Of course the visit of Rehman Malik was disappointing to say the least, we would have expected much more. But we did achieve during his visit a new visa regime-- a part of the confidence building measure with Pakistan. Let's hope that is not the last step. We haven't had satisfaction that we want, but we haven't given up. We are still working on it.

Suhasini Haidar: What is that in 2013 that you are hopeful of India- Pakistan relationships?

Salman Khurshid: Well to begin with, I think that incidents continue to happen which shouldn't. I mean you hear, and reliably, of attempts to intrude, you hear of tunnels being dug. This must stop. And when we get back to horrific incidents of Mumbai, we want the trail and we want a trial that is an effective trial. We want the voice samples; we have given the wish list. We want them to begin with at least delivering on the wish list before we can say that this is fine then we can move ahead with other things as well.

Suhasini Haidar: You just met with Iranian NSA and yet India is not receiving full cooperation in the investigation into terror attack on an Israeli diplomat in the capital?

Salman Khurshid: I am not sure that we can come to that conclusion right away. NSA had a very good and a very long dialogue with Mr Jalili and Mr Jalili when he met me sounded very happy and very satisfied. Was looking at the larger picture. But my information isn't that we are not getting cooperation. When you seek cooperation you always want much more than somebody's able to give. So, let's not say that that story is over yet and we will continue to seek cooperation and I hope we will get it.

Suhasini Haidar: When it comes to relations with Iran - US has very publicly said India must decrease its dependence on Iranian oil, I ask you that question because sense is when it comes to Iran or when it comes to Syria, where West is pushing for some sort of international intervention, India has shifted its stand and perceptively coming in line with the West. Do you think there has been a change in India's foreign policy in last few ...?

Salman Khurshid: Let me just say this very clearly - we remain very categorically committed to UN compliance of UN conditions and UN sanctions. We do not accept unilateral sanctions put by any country. And we have remained consistent with that. But whatever any country does, particularly if it happens to be a powerful country like the US, there are market implications and whatever then the market does will affect what we are doing with Iran or any other country.

Suhasini Haidar: Now, you took over as External Affairs Minister just a couple of months ago, essentially with elections in 2014, you have 2013. What is your biggest priority for this year going to be?

Salman Khurshid: If you really ask me, I would consider myself very lucky that if we can convince the people of the country and the constituents in the government that India has a major major place waiting for it in the world. And the world is looking at India very carefully with tremendous amount of interest and willing to reach out to India. We as Indians must also know and we must take advantage of what is on offer. We cannot give the world an impression that we are not interested in the world and particularly we are able to carry conviction with our people to reach out to our neighborhood, both the immediate neighborhood and the extended neighborhood because ultimately that's where we belong and that's where we must ensure that everybody is happy.


Ali, If I come to you first, we really can't talk about the year ahead without a look at this deal which just been cut over the New Year. President Obama able to forge that agreement on taxes, in order to pass the fiscal bill despite some anxious moment. There is the US's financial crisis over for the moment? What's next?

Velshi: Has the fiscal cliff been resolved in the least possible way, as if one fell off the cliff but happened to have a bungee cord attached, so we bounced most of the way back, I am not even sure we are back fully on top of it. Here is the issue; this is the smallest, the peanut-est, the least significant deal that could have been achieved. What we have managed to do is avoid the sequester, which I often say is stupid name for a stupid thing. We have but averted going over the fiscal cliff by the least possible means and this will come back to haunt us at least couple of more times.

Suhasini Haidar: World is watching US very closely, but there are the end of 2012 many economist spoken about possibility over recovery in 2013.What's the big economic story to watch out for this year?

Velshi: What you want to watch out for 2013 are few things. Number one we have to watch China very carefully, we have seen growth in many factoring output in China struggling for last couple of quarters, largely because what's going on in Europe and to some degree in what's going on in the US. Now, as Europe stabilizes, we want to see whether Chinese output starts to grow again Chinese GDP starts to grow again as a result you might see Chinese consumerism growing and that's going to help other parts of the world. But that's going to depend on the stability coming out of Europe, which finally seems to be getting its act together. And of course you want to know what the US does. We are going to have at least a couple of more cliff barrels, cliff like barrels over the course of next few months. Does the US actually tackle its long term debt and deficit situation, that's going to dominate 2013? So, what's China doing, what's Europe and what's US doing.

Suhasini Haidar: If I could come to Antonio, you practically travel the world this year, looking at some of those big hot-spots what do you is going to be big challenge in 2013?

Antonio: Unfortunately all the crisis that we have presently are going to continue, probably even get nastier. Look at Syria, the conflict is going on and becoming more and more violent, more and more people force to flee, and the same applies everywhere. so, I foresee 2013 that the crisis we are facing now will remain and become even more difficult and we never know what's going to happen, we never know where a new crisis will emerge and so, I think international solidarity is more necessary than ever. The good thing is countries have shown enormous generosity. Neighboring countries have shown enormous generosity keeping their borders open and allowing all these people to be protected, to be assisted, even when the impact on their economies and their societies has been very strong.

Suhasini Haidar: Do you see 2013 as a year that will see more conflict in West Asia?

Bernard Haykel: I think the Syrian conflict is likely to get much worse and my worries there is specifically to use of chemical weapons and biological weapons by the regime. And that possibility meaning that the US and other forces might, even Israel invade Syria to try to capture these weapons. So, Syria is definitely something to watch out for and then the other big questions for the Middle East/West Asia are whether the Egyptian economy and politics get sorted out there. Similarly, for Tunisia and then finally the very very big question is what's to be done about Iran and the nuclear program that it is pursuing?

Suhasini Haidar: As the danger, if you like of a real standoff between Iran and Israel past for the moment? We don't seem to hear about it that much.

Bernard Haykel: No, I don't think so. In fact the Israeli government is up for an election very soon, it's like a right wing government is likely to be voted in and I think as the Iranian proceed, as these economic sanctions likely not to be stopping nuclear program of the Iranian, Israelis might attack and bring in the US and India will certainly will have to take a position. I don't think we see an economic crisis as a result of an attack on Iran necessarily but I think an attack is very likely.

Suhasini Haidar: Let's talk about the Arab spring. Two years ago this was something that was celebrated around the world. They are yet there in Syria; we see nearly sixty thousands people now dead, six thousand hundred above refugee, we are looking at the violence in the Libya over the past year, Yemen as well. What happened to the Arab springs?

Bernard Haykel: Well, I think that, you know the initial euphoria of the Arab spring had to do with the desire of Arab's dignity and freedom. But there are some real structural problems in the Arab world. To do with economics, to do with Islamists, whose commitments to democracy is questionable. So, I think that, the reality of Arab population, Arab politics, and Arab economics leads one to lose a lot of that euphoria. That was there initially.

Suhasini Haidar: We are talking about nearly seven lakh refugees, is that going to be a big crisis for you at the UNHCR?

Antonio: We need to hope for the solution but we need to be prepared for the worst. That is why we are presenting an appeal to the international community to support our capacity to respond to 1.1 million refugees in June or in worst case scenario, even 1.8 million refugees if things get totally out of control.

Suhasini Haidar: You met many Indian officials during your trip here, what is the big expectation from India? Of course closer home there are the challenges from Afghanistan, from Myanmar as well.

Antonio: I think what we are asking to do is, we don't even ask, we don't need to ask, we go on doing what India is doing. You have refugees from Tibet, you have refugees from Sri Lanka that are going back even slowly. We would like to cooperate with the two governments to see if conditions are created to return more attractive in safety and dignity voluntarily. You have refugees from Myanmar, even Rohingyas now are coming and are being received in India. India is just established a system of long stay visas, work permits for refugees. So indeed our cooperation is excellent, we are sure we don't even need to ask, we are sure that India will maintain its traditional policy in years to come and fortunately that policy will be more needed than ever.

Suhasini Haidar: Every year we come in with the hope that this is going to be the year where India emerges on the global forum. Will this be that year?

Bernard Haykel: First, I think US is going to become much more active in engaging the Middle East than it has been. President Obama did not get as engaged and India will have to take a position to whether it has to follow America's contrail or whether it's going to adopt its own policy. Now India has the good access to Iran, it could play an important role as a mediator. Whether India wants to do though is a question.