Defence, energy ties to top Narendra Modi’s agenda in Moscow2 min read . Updated: 23 Dec 2015, 01:37 AM IST
The visit will have a special focus on nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and defence and several pacts related to these sectors are expected to be inked
New Delhi: Increase in bilateral trade and investment along with strengthening defence and energy cooperation will be high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda during his two-day visit to Russia for the 16th annual India-Russia summit starting Wednesday.
It is Modi’s second summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Summit meetings between India and Russia started in 2000 and have been held alternately in Moscow and New Delhi.
The visit will have a special focus on nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and defence and several pacts related to these sectors are expected to be inked.
“We expect to sign a number of agreements covering a very broad range of fields. Final touches are being given to some of them," foreign secretary S. Jaishankar said in a media briefing.
Referring to India and Russia as two time-tested partners, Jaishankar said that India was looking at deeper engagement in Russia’s oil and coal sectors besides stepping up cooperation in some other areas like diamond trade and agribusiness.
“Russia has been a very major military and strategic partner of India’s. There will be a lot of discussions on that," he added.
India has cleared the purchase of Russian air-defence missile systems at an estimated cost of ₹ 40,000 crore.
Energy has been high on India’s agenda and it has been looking at greater involvement in oil and gas exploration projects in Russia, which is one of the top oil producers and has huge reserves of natural gas.
Jaishankar junked reports of Russia’s growing closeness to Pakistan. On a question pertaining to Russia’s decision to supply attack helicopters to Pakistan and whether this was a signal that it was not happy with India’s growing closeness to the US, he said, “Even a sense of comparison does not make sense to me."
Last year, at the 15th annual summit, Putin and Modi had set a target of $30 billion in bilateral trade by 2025, from nearly $10 billion in 2014. Major items of export from India include pharmaceuticals, miscellaneous manufactured items, iron and steel, apparel, tea, coffee and tobacco, while major items of import from Russia are defence and nuclear power equipment, fertilizers, electrical machinery and diamonds.
Putin will host a private dinner for Modi and the two leaders will also interact with a group of Indian and Russian CEOs at the Kremlin. Modi will also address a gathering of ‘Friends of India’ and around 3,000 people are expected to attend the event.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the issue of files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. “Let’s wait and see what happens. I do not prejudge the Russian response till we get it," Jaishankar said, adding that the issue had figured during foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Moscow.