It is my pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on my behalf to the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue of the Foreign and Defence Ministers of India and the Russian Federation. The timing of today’s meeting is significant as it comes before 21st India- Russia Annual Summit later today.
We are meeting at a critical juncture in the global geopolitical environment which is in great flux, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. As close friends and strategic partners, India and Russia have been working together to safeguard our common interests and to ensure peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples.
Our ties have been close and time-tested. In a world that has changed so much, they have been exceptionally steady. We have had an active dialogue at political levels and also a strong defence partnership over many years. Our meeting gives us a suitable platform to discuss politico-military issues of mutual interest that are inter-related and cross-cutting.
Our discussions today will address the emergence of multipolarity and rebalancing. We look too at the consequences of over centralized globalization. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised questions about the current model of global affairs. But the long-standing challenges remain even as new ones emerge. Prominent among them are terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization. The situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions, including for Central Asia. West Asia or the Middle East continues to present hotspots. Maritime security and safety is another domain of shared concern. We both have a common interest in ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-driven platforms.
All in all, there is much to discuss today. I look forward to an open exchange of views that would further strengthen our Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.
Thank you and I would invite Minister Lavrov to make his opening remarks.