India-Russia Sign ‘Record’ 28 MoUs, Share Concerns On Afghanistan

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New Delhi: India and Russia on Monday signed a record 28 MoUs covering a wide range of sectors that include trade, energy, culture, intellectual property accountancy and education.

During a special briefing following the summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there was an “excellent discussion” between the two leaders, news agency ANI reported. He stated that President Putin’s visit was short but “nonetheless highly productive and highly substantive”.

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Notably, besides 28 MoUs, New Delhi and Moscow also signed a program of cooperation in the field of defense for the next 10 years from 2021 to 2031.

Here are the highlights of the 21st India-Russia Summit:

  • At the press briefing, Foreign Secretary HV Shringla stated that “record number 28 MoUs were concluded during the visit,” adding that the “agreements were government-to-government and business-to-business, including those involving public sector units”. “The diversity of agreements and MoUs signed today shows the multifaceted nature of our bilateral partnership,” he stressed.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs in a statement wrote: “Bilateral talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the sustained progress in the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between both countries despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic”. “They welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign and Defense Ministers and the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation in New Delhi on 6 December 2021,” it added.
  • PM Narendra Modi and President Putin discussed regional and global developments, including the post-pandemic global economic recovery, and the situation in Afghanistan, the MEA informed. “They agreed that both countries share common perspectives and concerns on Afghanistan and appreciated the bilateral roadmap charted out at the NSA level for consultation and cooperation on Afghanistan,” the external affairs ministry stated.
  • Both the leaders noted that India and Russia shared common positions on many international issues and agreed to further strengthen cooperation at multilateral fora, including at the UN Security Council. President Putin congratulated Prime Minister Modi for India’s ongoing non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council and successful Presidency of BRICS in 2021.
  • As per the MEA statement, the leaders underscored the need for greater economic cooperation and emphasized on new drivers of growth for long term predictable and sustained economic cooperation. The role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai – Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor figured in the discussions, the ministry informed.
  • In the summit meeting, President Putin mentioned that the mutual investments between the two countries stand at about 38 billion with a bit more investment coming from the Russian side. “We cooperate greatly in military and technical sphere like no other country. We develop high technologies together as well as produce in India,” he emphasized, as quoted by ANI.
  • Talking about the matters of terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan, he said: “We are certainly worried about everything related to terrorism and the fight against it. Terrorism is also fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. In this regard, we cannot but worry about the situation and how it is developing in Afghanistan”.
  • Meanwhile, it was also informed that enhancing bilateral trade and investment figured prominently in the talks. “This year, we’ve noticed an encouraging trend of growth in our trades compared to last year. Both sides are looking forward to continued increase in trade and investment trajectory,” the Foreign Secretary said.
  • HV Shringla also mentioned that “on the trade and investment side, there are some specific plans which include long-term corporation in the areas of inland waterways, fertilizers, coking coals, steel, skilled manpower. Coking coals emerged as an important area of ​​corporation”. “We have expressed interest in further investments in the oil and gas sector, as well as in the area of ​​petrochemicals,” he added.
  • President Putin extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit in 2022.

At the press briefing, Foreign Secretary HV Shringla highlighted that “this is President Putin second visit out of Russia since COVID-19 pandemic began. The only visit he has undertaken was the brief visit to Geneva for the Russia-US summit”. “The fact that the Russian president has decided to visit India for the annual summit exceptionally is an indication of the importance he attaches to the bilateral relationship and also his personal rapport,” he emphasized.

This is the first in-person meeting between the two leaders after they met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in 2019 in Brasilia. There have been six telephonic conversations between PM Modi and President Putin since then apart from the virtual meetings that they attended for multilateral summits. The visit is in continuation of the tradition of annual summits held alternately in India and Russia.

Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu under the framework of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

Separately, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Then the foreign and defense ministers of the two sides held the ‘2+2’ dialogue.

Notably, India and Russia inked an agreement for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at a manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi besides firming up another pact on military cooperation for 10 years. The rifles will be manufactured for the Indian armed forces at a cost of around Rs 5,000 crore.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

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