Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Russia: India-Russia summit very productive: Add’s new vigour to relations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today left for France after wrapping up his Russia visit during which he held talks with President Vladimir Putin and attended an international economic forum.

India, Russia signs St Petersburg Declaration for enhanced ties across the board.

‘70 years of India-Russia ties have seen remarkable cooperation & convergence on key issues’, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ‘India’s relations with Russia are special”, he said.

He says Russia has been by our side from time to time, even the business community helps to bring both the countries closer. Companies from Russia should explore the opportunities in India and collaborate with Indian industry.

We will continue to increase investments, says Russian President Vladimir Putin at CEO forum meeting in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India working to raise contribution of manufacturing sector to GDP from 16 per cent to 25 per cent; Russian companies can take advantage in this, Modi said.

During his Russia visit, Modi and Putin held a summit, and signed several agreements including a critical one to build two more reactors of a nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu with Russia’s help.

Modi attended the St Petersburg International Economic Forum where he made a strong pitch to global businesses for investing in India, saying its market of 120 crore people provides vast opportunities from agriculture to defence, while being protected by political stability and a vibrant judicial system.

Going by our industry secretary’s claim, the current volume of trade between India and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which stands at a meagre $8 billion, is likely to go up to $60 billion in 10 years.

The realisation of such an ambitious goal, however, would depend on several factors. For the time being, Russia’s trade minister has assured that an agreement between Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and India will be signed within two years.

It was also announced that India would become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in June this year.

The SCO was founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as a political, military and economic co-operation organisation; India and Pakistan were granted membership status in 2016, and the formal announcement of their membership would be ratified at the summit meeting later this month.

It was  in September 2000 that India, Russia and Iran signed an agreement to establish the INSTC, with a vision similar to China’s when Beijing launched OBOR. The INSTC project took off well, with all three countries ratifying the agreement and bringing it into force in May 2002.

Later, 11 other countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Bulgaria (observer status) joined the agreement.

The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road, route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia and via ship, rail and road.

The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali, etc.

After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on his visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled how President Putin’s brother was among several family members who had laid down their lives for the country.

Prime Minister Modi met the 64-year-old President for the second time in eight months and mentioned his visit to the Piskariovskoye Cemetery where more than 5 lakh victims of World War II and the 900-day siege of Leningrad are buried. “I had an opportunity to visit the cemetery and pay homage to those who laid down their lives for Russia,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Modi is the guest of honour at this year’s three-day Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia’s answer to Davos, that Putin will use to push the idea that Russia has turned the page on a brutal recession caused by low oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine.

The 24-page St. Petersburg Declaration, released after his summit with Putin, is a testament to India-Russia relation, Modi said. “And I know the world will minutely scrutinize every word for future direction of our relations.”

The joint statement issued at the end of Modi’s three-day visit to Russia include: “We appreciate the compelling logic of regional connectivity for peace, progress and prosperity. We believe that connectivity must be strengthened. It should be based on dialogue and consent of all parties concerned with due respect to sovereignty”.

“The Russian and Indian sides being guided by the principles of transparency, sustainability and responsibility, reiterate their commitment to building an effective infrastructure for the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC),” it said.

“The world is increasingly becoming inter-dependent. We believe in ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas’ (Cooperation of all, development for all). This is not just for the domestic programmes but also for international cooperation. We want to carry everyone along for development,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

“It is true that we have a border dispute with China. But in the last 40 years, not a single bullet has been fired because of border dispute,” Modi said during a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. He shared the stage with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Austria and Moldova.

On China, Modi said that despite differences, New Delhi and Beijing have come together on the BRICS platform to create two financial institutions, one headed by China where India is a partner and one BRICS Bank where the two regional superpowers are collaborators.

Modi was responding to a question whether India’s opposition to China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ project reflects deep discord in their relationship. India had boycotted a high-profile conference recently hosted by China on the project, citing “sovereignty” issue since it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“Thank you Russia. This eventful visit witnessed several programmes and fruitful meetings. It will further boost India-Russia friendship,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted before leaving for France.

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