Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accepted the invitation to visit India as part of the high-level exchanges planned between the two countries this year.
In a video statement at the end of his two-day official visit to Moscow, Mr Shringla said he had extensive exchanges with Russian leaders on bilateral issues as well as matters of regional and international interest, including arms control and counterterrorism, that will keep the momentum of friendly relations between the two countries going.
Mr Shringla was on an official visit to Moscow from February 17-18 for the India-Russia Foreign Office Consultations. It was his first foreign trip this year.
“I had a very productive and fruitful stay in Moscow. I have had an extensive range of meetings, activities. It has given me a very comprehensive view of the relationship but more importantly it has enabled us to connect at a range of issues that involve keeping the momentum of our close and friendly bilateral relations going,” he said in a video tweeted by the Indian Embassy.
He said that Russain Foreign Minister Lavrov accepted the invitation extended on behalf of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for him to visit India.
“He has a plan to visit at the earliest,” Mr Shringla said.
“On the whole, an excellent visit from my point of view and I think India-Russia relations are in a good place. We have very good understanding on issues which are beyond bilateral, regional, global and certainly that friendship and cooperation that our two countries enjoy wil see us doing higher in further years to come,” he said.
Briefing about his visit, Mr Shringla said he had delegation-level talks with Russian side led by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.
“We discussed bilateral issues extensively but also issues of regional and international interest,” he said.
Mr Shringla said that during his meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, “we discussed a range of arms control and disarmament issues. We discussed BRICS where Russia has just given the presidency of this organisation to India.
“We talked about continuity in some of the very very important initiatives, on areas like counterterrorism taken by Russia in BRICS. We hope to continue that momentum in our presidency which is BRICS@15,” he said.
Emphasising on the deep friendly relations between the two countries, Mr Shringla said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met 19 times in the last six years, which is more than 3 times a year.
“It not only shows the very very extensive contacts that we have with the highest levels but it also shows… we have a large number of organisations to which we both are members, so it gives us the opportunity to meet,” he said.
“We are very happy that President Putin would be visiting India at the invitation of our Prime Minister at a time that is to be decided,” he said.
Before that, Foreign Minister Lavrov would be visiting at the invitation of the External Affairs Minister.
“We will have the visit of the deputy Prime Minister to head the inter governmental commission along with our EAM. We also expect high-level participation by Russia at our Raisina dialogue which is the major think tank event in India,” he said.
Talking about the situation in Afghanistan, he said that situation there is important for both countries.
“We also discussed our participation in multilateral organisations like the UN. India is currently a non-permanent member at the UNSC and we discussed many issues relevant to that organisation,” he said.
Mr Shringla said that the two countries also discussed economic and business linkages and are already looking at operationalising Chennai-Vladivostok corridor.
He said that the two countries have worked closely in combating COVID-19 and Russian vaccine sputnik V is in the stage 3 trials in India which are expected to be completed by mid-march.
“We are looking to collaborate with Russia to manufacture a large amount of Sputnik V vaccine, another area of our very successful cooperation is the health sector,” he said.
“There are a lot of areas, especially high technology areas where we want to focus. one of the decisions we took in our meetings was to have a high-level group that will focus on high technology and areas that represent new technologies for both countries,” he said.