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India and Russia had agreed to hold annual bilateral summits alternatively in the two countries. Photo: AP
India and Russia had agreed to hold annual bilateral summits alternatively in the two countries. Photo: AP

Annual India-Russia summit may be deferred amid covid-19

  • Modi expressed his keenness to welcome President Putin in India as soon as possible after the normalisation of the public health situation

NEW DELHI: The annual India-Russia summit that was expected to be hosted by India this year is unlikely to happen given the covid-19 pandemic situation in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday for his 68th birthday, “expressed his keenness to welcome President Putin in India, as soon as possible after the normalisation of the public health situation," a statement from the prime minister’s office said. “Both leaders agreed to remain in touch over the coming days, including on the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic," it said.

In 2000, India and Russia had agreed to hold annual bilateral summits alternatively in the two countries. It was expected that Putin will travel to India this year for the summit but the surge in the number of covid-19 cases in India seems to have postponed the visit for now. India has recorded more than six million cases and crossed 100,000 deaths last week due to covid-19.

On Wednesday, while briefing reporters on the outcome of the decisions taken by the Cabinet headed by prime minister Modi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the government would launch a new awareness campaign from Thursday to disseminate information to check the coronavirus transmission.

“Till the time a vaccine for covid-19 is available, the public needs to wear masks properly, follow social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene as a part of efforts to check the spread of the virus as these rules are the currently a strong defence against the covid-19," said Javadekar.

During his conversation with Putin, Modi “appreciated the personal role that the latter (Putin) has played in nurturing the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two nations," a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

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