Rajnath holds meeting with Russian counterpart to take ahead defence ties

New Delhi (NVI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a three-day visit to Russia to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), had a meeting with his counterpart Gen. Sergei Shoigu today and the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, especially how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation.

The meeting took place at the Russian Ministry of Defence in Moscow. Rajnath had arrived here yesterday to attend the crucial SCO meeting.

During his meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, Rajnath pressed for expediting supply of a number of weapons systems, ammunition and spares to India by Russia under contracts which were concluded earlier.

Taking to Twitter, Rajnath said he had an “excellent” meeting with the Russian Defence Minister in Moscow today.

“Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries,” he tweeted.

Interestingly, Gen. Sergei’s meeting with Rajnath was the first meeting he was having with visiting Defence Ministers.

During the meeting, both sides welcomed the advance stage of discussions for the establishment in India of an India-Russian Joint Venture for the production of AK203 assault rifles which are considered one of the most modern weapons available for infantry forces, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

“This provides very positive basis for further engagement of Russian defence industry in ‘Make in India’ programme,” MoD said.

General Shoigu also reiterated commitment of the Russian side to engage actively with the Indian Defence Ministry to ensure the success of ‘Make in India’ programme including substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February next year.

Apart from that, the meeting covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Defence Ministry said. “It was noted that this meeting coincides with the Indra Naval Exercises to be conducted by the Indian and Russia navies off the Straits of Malacca over the next two days,” it said.

Rajnath Singh noted that these exercises demonstrated the common interests of both countries in maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.

During the meeting, Rajnath also extended an invitation for General Shoigu to visit India for the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission for Technical & Military Cooperation which is expected to be held towards the end of this year, MoD said.