Jaishankar meets Russian counterpart Lavrov, talks held over Putin’s visit

at 9:13 pm

New Delhi (NVI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in New Delhi and the two leaders held discussions over a host of issues including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India.

The Russian President is set to arrive in India for the Annual Summit later this year, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement issued at the joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (Sergei Lavrov).

The Summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin is an annual affair, but could not take place last year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“A longstanding and time-tested partner! EAM @DrSJaishankar welcomes Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov,” MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi tweeted along with a picture of both leaders.

Pertinent to mention here that the meeting between the two leaders took place amidst uneasy vibes in bilateral ties between India and Russia.

In the statement released by MEA, Jaishankar said that much of the discussions covered preparations for President Putin’s visit to India.

“Much of our discussions today covered the preparations for President Putin’s visit for the Annual Summit later this year,” he was quoted as saying by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“…Our bilateral cooperation remains energetic and forward looking. We talked about longstanding partnership in nuclear, space and defence sectors. We assessed positively our economic cooperation, noting the new opportunities in Russian Far East,” Jaishankar said.

The two leaders also discussed connectivity, including the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor, MEA said.

“Our rapidly expanding energy cooperation that now includes long term commitments was also on the agenda,” EAM said.

Jaishankar also appreciated Russia’s support for India’s Gaganyaan space programme. “Our defence sector requirements in the past year were expeditiously addressed. And in meeting the Covid challenge, our pharmaceutical collaboration has become more serious and as many of you are aware we have a Russian vaccine under discussion for production in India,” he said.

The EAM said that the two sides also spent some time on the unfolding developments in and around Afghanistan. Notably, Jaishankar had recently attended the Heart of Asia– Istanbul Process conference in Dushanbe, where the Afghan issue was discussed.

“For India, what happens in Afghanistan impacts its security directly. I shared our approach that a durable peace there would require harmonising interests of all, both within and around that country. The peace process must be based on foundational principles to which we all subscribe. And a political solution should mean an independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying by MEA.

Lavrov, who arrived in India on a two-day visit yesterday, said that his talks with EAM were “constructive and confident”. He said that India-Russia relationship does not change with world fluctuation.

The Russian minister further said that one of the priorities for both countries is working on trade. Lavrov said that both the countries are also hoping to launch possible talks on free trade. “On defence technology our discussion happened, we respect India diversified interest in military technology,” Lavrov added.

On Afghanistan, Lavrov said that India is a key player to promote peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. “India is a key player to promote peaceful settlement in Afghanistan and definitely should be engaged in international efforts supporting Afghan national reconciliation process,” he said during meeting with Jaishankar.

Interestingly, the Russian Foreign Minister’s comments came days after Russia, while hosting a multi-nation conference on Afghanistan recently, kept India out of it, toeing Pakistan’s line that New Delhi has no direct stakes.

Lavrov left for Pakistan later today after holding meeting with Jaishankar, where he was welcomed by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.