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Press Statement by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar during his meeting with Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergey Lavrov

November 08, 2022

Friends of the Press

As you all know, I am here in Moscow to hold my regular consultations with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. I also met Deputy Prime Minister, Denis Manturov, who is my counterpart as the co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Commission that we both head. We of course, are still in the midst of our discussion. We have done one round of our talks. So, I will give you both a read out of what we have discussed as well as some issues that I think we will be taking forward immediately after this Press Conference.

2. Before I come to that, it is important that I lay out the context for this visit. Normally, that would not be necessary, but these are unusual times. Let me begin by emphasizing that India and Russia have a longstanding partnership that has served both countries very well over many decades. This covers a range of practical cooperation in fields like trade, investment, energy, commodities etc. as well as sensitive domains like defence, space and nuclear. My objective in coming here today is to sit down with my Russian counterparts – Minister Lavrov and Deputy PM Manturov – and assess how we are doing. There are clearly challenges that we need to address as well as prospects that we are exploring. For this stock-taking exercise, I am accompanied by senior officials from the Indian Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Finance, Chemicals and Fertilizers as well as Commerce and Industry.

3. In the last few years, we, India and Russia, have grappled with how to expand our bilateral trade and introduce more factors of long-term stability and growth. Some of these discussions are now yielding results, accelerated by the stresses that the global economy is currently experiencing, including as a result of the Ukraine conflict. Minister Lavrov and I have noted the significant growth in our bilateral trade this year and focused on how to make it more sustainable. We are naturally concerned at the trade imbalance, and I have raised with the Russian side how to address impediments that stand in the way of greater Indian exports.

We reviewed the progress of our space and nuclear programs. It is also essential that our time-tested defence relationship continues to perform smoothly. Notably, our energy and fertilizer cooperation has been strengthening and our achievements of the last few years have become a foundation to do more. Foreign Minister Lavrov of course has spoken about some of these issues in his remarks.

4. We discussed ways to expand and diversify our cooperation, moving beyond traditional areas. Promotion of inter-regional cooperation has been a key priority for us, particularly with the Russian Far East. We also discussed enhancing connectivity, including through the International North-South Transport Corridor as well as the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor. I updated Minister Lavrov and deputy PM Manturov on India’s flagship initiatives, including Atmanirbhar Bharat i.e. self reliant India and Make in India, that can serve as platforms for a more contemporary economic relationship between our two countries.

5. It is natural that as Foreign Ministers, we exchanged views on the international situation from our particular perspectives and vantage points. Obviously, the Ukraine conflict was a dominant feature, although we will continue to have discussions on it. Let me take this opportunity to lay out the Indian position on this matter. As Prime Minister Modi conveyed to President Putin in Samarkand in September, this is not an era of war. The global economy is simply too inter-dependent for a significant conflict anywhere, not to have major consequences elsewhere. We are seeing growing concerns on energy and food security from the conflict that are coming on top of severe stresses created by two years of Covid. The Global South, especially, is feeling this pain very acutely. India, therefore, strongly advocates a return to dialogue and diplomacy. We are clearly on the side of peace, respect for international law and support for the UN Charter. Insofar as specific initiatives pertaining to issues like food grains and fertilizer shipments are concerned, or any other problem for that matter, India will be as helpful as we can be. Indeed, I would say that for any initiative that de-risks the global economy and stabilizes the global order at this stage; India will be supportive.

6. From our side, I also shared with Minister Lavrov the Indian reading of recent trends in the Sub-continent. You are all aware that countries have experienced serious economic difficulties. There are other factors of instability as well. Terrorism, including its cross-border manifestation, remains a major concern. Where the Indo-Pacific is concerned, both our nations have stakes in its progress and prosperity. We, as partners, highly value the centrality of ASEAN to the larger regional architecture. From the view point of our respective interests, we exchanged views about how the goals of the international community are best served, including in securing the global commons.

7. Our talks also addressed a number of regional issues. On Afghanistan, we discussed how to continue our support for the people of Afghanistan, even as we urge Taliban to fulfill its international commitments. We are both members of various formats where the Afghan related issues come up for review and we will continue to be in close touch.

8. I hope to discuss in the coming session the prospects of the the Iranian JCPOA, because India believes that the way forward must be found in the interest of global peace, security and non-proliferation. I also expect a wider exchange of assessments on the current situation in the Middle East what we call West Asia, including matters pertaining to Syria and Palestine. India today has a wide range of interests and a growing footprint. Some of this is expressed in terms of our UN responsibilities like the chair of the Libya Committee, some in our traditionally close partnerships with Africa, and now increasingly, our deeper economic involvement with many regions. The world is moving towards greater multi-polarity through steady and continuous re-balancing. And that especially means a multipolar Asia. As prominent nations who have a positive history of working together, this will naturally influence the conversations between Russia and India.

9. Our two countries are members of the G20, the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, amongst others. How we work together in these formats is also on our agenda. You all know that India has assumed the Chair of the SCO and will take over the Presidency of the G20 in December. We strongly believe that the pressing concerns of the international community as a whole must be fully recognized and effectively addressed. The state of multilateralism, especially the working of the UN and its key organs, is today clearly wanting. Even as we focus on the immediate, the case for reformed multilateralism including a reformed UN Security Council is becoming difficult to deny. We welcome Russian support for India in that regard.

10. In conclusion, let me say that we have had a morning of very open and productive exchanges. As I noted, we are still somewhat halfway through our discussions. But Minister Lavrov, allow me to thank you for your hospitality, for your welcome. And I am confident that our talks will contribute to the further development of India-Russia cooperation.

November 8, 2022

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