Thu, 20 Jan 2022

New Delhi [India], December 7 (ANI): India and Russia on Monday discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its implications in the region, as they condemned the cross-border movement of terrorists and inked a deal for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 rifles in Uttar Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian Vladimir President Putin held the 21st annual summit on Monday, hours after the two nations held their maiden 22 dialogue.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin's "short but highly productive and substantive" visit for the annual summit, India and Russia signed 28 MoUs and agreements including that on a programme of the Military-Technical Cooperation from 2021-2031.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India and Russia have not only cooperated with each other without any hesitation but have also taken special care of each other's sensitivities.

"There have been many fundamental changes at the global level in the last several decades. A lot of geopolitical equations have emerged. But India-Russia friendship has been a constant among all these variables. Both the countries have not only cooperated with each other without any hesitation but have also taken special care of each other's sensitivities. It is truly a unique and reliable model of inter-state friendship," the Prime Minister said.

He said the two countries are adopting a long-term vision to deepen the relationship in the economic sector and have set a target of $30 billion in trade and $50 billion in investment by 2025.

Putin, whose visit to India was only his second foreign visit since the outbreak of COVID-19, said Russia views India "as a major power, whose people have been very friendly to us".

"Our relations proceed from a very positive foundation. They are developing and forward-looking," he said.

A 99-point comprehensive joint statement covering various aspects of the ties including cooperation in the space sector was issued after the talks that were held "in a warm and friendly atmosphere".

"There were excellent discussions between the two leaders. This is President Putin second visit out of Russia since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The only visit he has undertaken was the brief visit to Geneva for the Russia-US summit," Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a media briefing after the 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 added.

PM Modi and President Putin 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 22 Dialogue of Foreign and Defence Ministers and the meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation.

The statement said the two sides positively assessed the multi-faceted India-Russia relations that span various areas of cooperation including political and strategic, economy, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture and humanitarian cooperation. They noted that while the traditional areas of cooperation are being further strengthened, new drivers of growth have led to diversification and expansion of bilateral cooperation.

The leaders underscored the need for greater economic cooperation and in this context, emphasized new drivers of growth for long term predictable and sustained economic cooperation.

They appreciated the success story of mutual investments and looked forward to greater investments in each others' countries.

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 leaders discussed regional and global developments, including the post-pandemic global economic recovery, and the situation in Afghanistan.

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 leaders reiterated strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs. They also discussed the current humanitarian situation and decided to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people," the statement said.

The leaders emphasised that Afghanistan's territory should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist groups including ISIS, Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba."They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism," the statement said.

The agreements and MoUs spanned vast areas including trade, energy, science and technology, intellectual property, outer space, geological exploration, cultural exchange and education.

The statement said India and Russia strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to intensify cooperation against terrorism including safe havens, terror financing, arms, drugs trafficking and radicalisationThe Central Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India signed a cooperation agreement to fight cyber-attacks.

President Putin extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Russia for the 22nd India-Russia Annual Summit in 2022.

Earlier in the day Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu co-chaired a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission during which the two sides inked the agreement for joint production of over six lakh AK-203 assault rifles at a manufacturing facility in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi.

Rajnath Singh, Sergey Shoigu, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the 22 meeting. India has this arrangement only with members of Quad - the US, Japan and Australia.

In his remarks, Rajnath Singh made a veiled reference to China's actions in eastern Ladakh.

"The COVID-19 pandemic, the extra-ordinary militarization and expansion of armament in our neighbourhood and the completely unprovoked aggression on our northern border since early summer of 2020 have thrown in several challenges," he said.

"India is confident of overcoming these challenges with the strong political will and inherent capability of its people. Recognizing that its development needs are colossal and that its defence challenges are legitimate, real and immediate, India seeks partners who are sensitive and responsive to India's expectations and requirements," he added.

Jaishankar said at the situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions for the Central Asian region and added that both India and Russia have a common interest in ASEAN centrality.

"India-Russia meeting today will address the emergence of multipolarity and rebalancing. We look at the consequence of over-centralized globalisation. Long-standing challenges of terrorism, violent extremism remain among newer challenges," Jaishankar said. The situation in Afghanistan has wider repercussions including for Central Asia," Jaishankar said.

He also stressed the strong and steady ties between India and Russia. "Our ties have been close and time-tested, in a world that has changed so much, they have been exceptionally steady," he said.

He said the two countries have an active, dialogue at political levels and also a strong defence partnership over many years.

"Our meeting gives us a suitable platform to discuss political-military issues of mutual interest that are interrelated and cross-cutting," he added.

Lavrov said that the newly established 22 ministerial dialogue will turn into an efficient platform to talk about both regional and international issues.

"Both Russia and India have a similar worldview of a more polycentric, more multipolar, more equitable world order. We advocate similar or identical positions on the most important political and military issues," he said. (ANI)

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