India-Russia ties very steady, says Jaishankar

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who is currently on a visit to Russia, on Wednesday, said that the relationship between India and Russia, which is based on “strategic convergence, and geopolitical interests” is “very steady and very strong”.

Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to Russia, said: “I think today what clearly came out was that India-Russia relations remain very steady, remain very strong, they are based on our strategic convergence, on our geopolitical interests, and because they are mutually beneficial.”

He said that we spent a lot of time discussing political cooperation with regard to various international issues, including international organisations, BRICS, of which Russia will be the President; SCO, etc.

“With regard to our bilateral relations, bilateral cooperation, yesterday (Tuesday), I also had a meeting with the co-chair of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission, Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov. And today, actually, we appreciated the fact that our trade is at an all-time high. We crossed $50 billion turnover last year. We expect to exceed that this year,” Jaishankar said. He also underlined that what is important is that “this trade is more balanced”.

“It is sustainable, and it provides for fair market access. I think that was very much part of my discussions yesterday and a little bit today with Minister Lavrov as well,” the Minister said.

Jaishankar also said: “I would say we had today and yesterday, discussed our cooperation in relationship to the Far East, Russian Far East and we expect a delegation from the Far East to participate in an important conference in India, next month. He also said that the two leaders discussed long-term arrangements.

“We are today, in our trade, energy, fertilizers, cooking coal are very big components of that. How we reach long-term arrangements in that regard was a big part of our discussion. We discussed mutual investments, the need to progress on a bilateral investment treaty. We spoke about railways yesterday, about industrial zone infrastructure. And we have agreed that the negotiations between India and the Eurasian Economic Union for a free trade agreement will be resumed in the second half of January this year,” he said.

The Minister further stated that on energy, we have today a very substantial relationship, both in terms of Indian investments in Russia, in oil and gas, which we are seeking to expand.

“As also in nuclear, yesterday we signed two important amendments, which will take the Kudankulam nuclear power project forward,” Jaishankar said.

Discussing the International North-South Transport corridor, Jaishankar said: “We also spoke about connectivity; connectivity from western India through the International North-South Transport Corridor. Also, connectivity from eastern India, from Chennai to Vladivostok and the polar route.”

“We discussed various related areas where India’s polar capabilities could be enhanced in collaboration with Russia,” he said.

Commenting on Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Minister said that we would like to see more Russian tourists in India.

“We have increased the number of flights from India every week, from 52 to 64. We are open to increasing it further,” Jaishankar said.

He further stated that discussions on the global strategic situation, Ukraine, about Gaza, about the Indo-Pacific, about ASEAN, Afghanistan, and about UN-related matters were held. – IANS

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