Jaishankar-Lavrov Bilateral Talks Feature Political Cooperation, Trade

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar 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”. He met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss bilateral cooperation in different spheres, including the international strategic situation, conflicts and tensions. The two leaders discussed political cooperation in various sectors, and India-Russia trade, which is at an “all-time high” also featured in their talks, Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar, who is on a five-day visit to Russia, said in his opening remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been in “frequent contact”.

“Our relationship has been very strong, very steady. And I think we have lived up to a special and privileged strategic partnership. This year we have already met six times, and this is our 7th meet. Our Prime Minister and President Putin have also been in frequent contact. We expect a strong Russian participation at the Vibrant Gujarat meeting in January. Today, we will focus on our bilateral cooperation in different spheres, adjusting it to changing circumstances and demands. We will discuss the international strategic situation, conflict and tensions,” External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said.

“We have agreed that the negotiations between India and the Eurasian economic union for the free trade agreement will be resumed in the second half of January this year,” he further said.

Speaking on the trade relations, Jaishankar said it has crossed $50 billion turnover last year and is expected to exceed this year.

“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 Sergey Lavrov as well,” he said.

Weighing in on the bilateral talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “specific agreements” have been reached to deepen the economic ties. He further said that Russia supports India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jaishankar held a “comprehensive and productive” meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Manturov on the economic cooperation. The leaders signed some “very important” agreements on the construction of the power-generating units of Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, according to news agency PTI.