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Jaishankar holds talks with Russian counterpart; reviews preparation for PM Modi's visit

PTI     August 28, 2019

(Eds: Updating with more quotes, Russian FM's quotes) Moscow, Aug 28 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday reviewed the preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country next week and discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest. "A truly special and privileged strategic partnership. Discussed a wide range of issues in a very warm atmosphere with FM Lavrov. A meeting of minds on important questions of the day. Appreciated full understanding of India's core interests," Jaishankar tweeted. Talking to reporters at a joint press conference here after the meeting, Lavrov said he had "constructive and useful negotiations" with his Indian counterpart. "We agreed on how to further build up our particularly privileged, strategic partnership, including in the foreign policy sphere," he said, adding that the partnership between India and Russia is not subject to any market fluctuations and is actively maintained at the highest level. "Today, we focused on preparations for Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and participation in the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok as chief guest," he said. The two sides "thoroughly discussed" the visit's agenda and came to the conclusion that they are on the right track, he added. The 5th Eastern Economic Forum will take place in Vladivostok on September 4-6. Lavrov said the preparations for the talks between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and India on creation of a free trade zone have also been finished, with all required procedures fulfilled. "EAEU focuses on the deepening of trade and economic cooperation with New Delhi. As of today, all procedures required for the launch of official talks on concluding a free trade zone agreement between EAEU and India have been completed. The speedy launch of a respective negotiations process will be a milestone of cooperation between India and EAEU," Lavrov said. The EAEU is a five-nation international organisation comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Russia established in 2015 to create conditions for the stable development of the economies of the member states. The EAEU region with a population size of over 180 million holds huge potential to increase trade. Lavrov said his talks with Jaishankar also focused on "a number of specific issues, including the necessity to intensify work on creation of an international transport corridor North-South in the Russia-India-Iran format." He said that respective departments would continue meaningful consultations on the subject. "We have a common positive assessment of the state and prospects of military-technical cooperation, including the possibility of expanding the joint production of modern weapons. We agreed to build up multifaceted cooperation in space exploration, in the field of nuclear energy, and in other high-tech areas," the Russian minister said. He said the two sides also discussed key issues of the global and regional agenda. "We are united in the need to build an interstate dialogue on the principles of the UN Charter, while respecting the right of peoples to independent choice of development models. We have close cooperation and coordination within the UN, in the G20, through BRICS, SCO, RIC," he said. He said there is a firm intention on both sides to fulfill the instructions of President Putin and Prime Minister Modi to deepen the bilateral relations. Responding to a question on US President Donald Trump's recent remarks that at some point Russia and India will have to fight terrorists in Afghanistan, Lavrov said the fight against terrorism and the fuelling drug trafficking is at the centre of their position on Afghanistan. "The goal of all our efforts, both in the Moscow format and in the framework of the Russia-USA-China troika, is to work which we would like to connect other countries, including India, Pakistan, Iran," he said. All these efforts are aimed at promoting a political settlement in Afghanistan that would be acceptable to all the main ethno-religious political groups and that would eliminate the threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking from Afghanistan, he added. "I can only assure you that in terms of Afghan issues, we have almost complete coincidence of positions with the Indian side. We agreed today to continue close coordination on this topic," Lavrov said. On a question regarding popularising Russian products such as cheese, honey, herbs in the Indian market, Lavrov said each other's market is very well studied. "About our capabilities in various fields-not only in cheese making and honey production, but also in high-tech industries - Indian partners are very well informed," he said. "We are trying to fully take into account the program called 'Make in India', which was put forward by Prime Minister Modi," he said, adding the summit in Vladivostok will bring additional concrete results. Jaishankar, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday on a two-day visit to Russia, also met Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov. "A detailed review of economic cooperation with Deputy PM Yury Borisov. Preparing for the Vladivostok Summit," Jaishankar tweeted. This is his first visit to Moscow since assuming office in May. Days ahead of Jaishankar's visit, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval travelled to Moscow and held talks with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev during which both sides underlined support for principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference of third parties. PTI ZH AKJ ZH ZH

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