Talks in Moscow set stage for Modi’s visit to Russia

Swaraj lavrov

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December, the foreign ministers of India and Russia held wide-ranging talks to firm up the agenda for the annual summit meeting between the leaders of the two countries.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held the 21st session of India-Russia Inter-Governmental Conference with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and discussed a host of bilateral issues. The talks were aimed at firming up the agenda and key deliverables that will be unveiled during Mr Modi’s visit to Moscow in December.

The two ministers focused on deepening content of the Druzhba-Dosti partnership, a vision document signed during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December 2014. “I want to tell you that Russia is India’s tried and tested partner and a real friend. Our foreign policy towards Russia has always been the same,” Ms Swaraj said. The two ministers spoke about the Russian government’s joint venture to manufacture almost 200 Kamov 226T helicopters in India that will give a big boost to the government’s flagship programme ‘Make in India’.

India raised the issue of liberalisation of visa rules for Indian tourists and businessmen. The two sides discussed strengthening of cooperation in civil nuclear sector, trade and investments apart from the situation in Syria and UN Security Council reforms. Bilateral trade during 2014-15 amounted to USD 9.51 billion. India’s exports stood at USD 3.17 billion and imports from Russia stood at USD 6.34 billion. India and Russia have set an ambitious target of more than tripling bilateral trade to USD 30 billion by 2025.

India’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with full membership will give boost to the efforts of the grouping in achieving its goals, said Mr Lavrov.

India’s membership of the SCO could pave the way for its entry into the SCO energy club. The club was set up to create a unified energy market as well as to ensure cooperation among major oil and gas companies from the member nations. Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan play major roles in the SCO energy club and the Indian government feels getting membership of the bloc will give it greater access to a number of key energy projects in the region.

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