Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
I am very happy to speak to you at the conclusion of the talks I have had this morning with, Foreign Minister Lavrov. I would say the talks were as always very warm, comfortable, comprehensive and productive. We in many ways built upon the conversation we had when the Foreign Minister was in Delhi in April this year, before the talks today I was in Moscow yesterday, I delivered a talk at IMEMO on why our partnership is a Special and Privileged Partnership and I think the uniqueness of our relationship is demonstrated and reaffirmed by our discussion today. I also had a very good meeting yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov where we went through issues relevant to the inter-governmental commission.
2. So let me speak a little bit about the talks this morning with the Foreign Minister. I think what it showed was that despite the fact that so many things are changing in our world both before and as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, our time-tested and trust-based relationship is very much not just in place but remains very strong, continues to grow. Seeing that in different ways I would like to right at the start express my appreciation for the support we got from Russia during the second wave of the Covid pandemic this year. There were four consignments which were flown-in on a very expedited basis by the Russian Government and of course as you’ve also heard now India has become a partner of Russia in the production and use of the Sputnik V vaccine and we believe that this is not only good for the two of us but it has positive implication for the rest of the world.
3. We have always seen our relationship with Russia as a contribution to global peace, security and stability. I think what makes our working together so natural and comfortable is our belief in a multipolar global order. We consider that to be a reflection of a very natural and inevitable process of evolution of inter-state relations in the 21st century.
4. Now much of our talks, especially the bilateral side of it, was to review the progress in different dimensions of our very broad ranging cooperation. I think Foreign Minister Lavrov has spoken about its different developments there. I don’t want to repeat that but I would recognize that we have actually made a very good progress even though for the last one year a lot of this has been through virtual contacts and I can assure you that when the Annual Bilateral Summit takes place this year, the development, the progress in our cooperation will be very much on display before all of you. A new dimension that has been added to our relationship of course is the agreement to hold the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers. We felt that we should do that sometime as per mutual convenience this year. Otherwise I can say we are very satisfied with the all round development of our relations.
5. Again as you know a lot of our cooperation is focused on the nuclear, space, energy and defence sectors. The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant project is on track and you heard Foreign Minister Lavrov tell you that the concrete first pour for Unit 5 has taken place. Space again has both practical and I would say symbolic importance for our relationship. You have been our original and strongest partners on the space side. The energy cooperation between us has grown very significantly in the last few years and we see that today reflected both in new potential investments and long term commitments which we have agreed to in the field of oil and gas. Our defence military technical cooperation but I would say even industrial collaboration today has been strengthened by Russian interest in Make in India programme, which is very visible.
6. Moving beyond the established areas, we have been discussing greater inter regional cooperation particularly with the Russian far east. We spoke about how we could take that forward, there are some agreements which have to be signed, I think we have made some progress there. We discussed connectivity especially the North South Corridor, we discussed it yesterday with Mr Borisov but also today with Mr Lavrov, the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor as well. I briefed him about what is happening in terms of developments in India and I think overall our sense of economic cooperation and science and technology cooperation was very positive.
7. In terms of regional and global issues, India is poised to hold the Presidency of the Security Council in August. So, I shared with Foreign Minister Lavrov, our plans and ideas for that month and we obviously value Russian participation and cooperation in that regard. I’d say, in the UN security council, this is not a surprise, in fact, it’s very much a natural happening, that we’ve worked very cooperatively and positively, so the strength of our strategic partnership is expressed today when it comes to deliberations in the UN. India is currently the chair of the BRICS and also of the RIC, it is also something we discussed, we have common membership of G-20, of ASEAN led forums, SCO and CICA. We have an SCO Foreign ministers’ meeting coming up very soon.
8. In terms of specific regions, of course, the situation in Afghanistan occupied a lot of our attention because it has a direct implication for regional security. We believe that the immediate need of the day is really a reduction in violence and if we have to see peace within Afghanistan and around Afghanistan, it’s important for India and Russia to work together and ensure that much of the progress that we’ve seen in economic, social and democratic terms are maintained. We are both committed to an independent, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan.
9. Beyond Afghanistan we spoke in some detail on what was happening in Syria, about the Iran issue, spent some time on Libya and we have both longstanding interests in the region. We believe that Peace and stability in such a sensitive region is very very important for global interest.
10. From my side, I shared our view-point on the Indo-Pacific. We support cooperation that reflects the multi-polar and rebalanced character of global politics. What I told Minister Lavrov, which I repeat to you is, we are very much committed to the centrality and unity of the ASEAN and we believe that the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative which we tabled at the East-Asia Summit is very important for the larger region. We of course because of our larger geo-political compatibility with Russia, we see a more active Russian presence and participation in the region as something very very important.
11. So once again what I would conclude by saying is it was a very good discussion, it is very much part of our regular continuous dialogue that we have been having. It is very good to be back here, Minister Lavrov, and I would say we have today made good progress as part of preparations for the summit.
Thank you very much