New Delhi: Reaffirming the importance that India attaches to the special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, on his first visit abroad this year, called on the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and handed over an invitation from External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to visit India at a mutually convenient date.
Foreign Secretary and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov held a Foreign Office Consultations on February 17 where they reviewed important aspects of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues. There was a detailed discussion on the roadmap of high-level exchanges in 2021 and both sides agreed on a roadmap that includes the Annual Bilateral Summit.
“Both sides have sustained the momentum of bilateral relations even during the Covid time. There were four telephonic conversations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Putin during 2020. Foreign Secretary’s visit was preceded by India-Russia Consultations on UNSC issues and policy planning dialogue at the Joint Secretary/ DG level on February 15, 2021. Earlier, Secretary (West) Vikas Swaroop had also visited Moscow for consultations with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vershinin Sergey Vasilievich on the UNSC issues,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday.
The spokesperson said that other important outcomes include discussion on the cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, particularly in the context of vaccines.
Russian side also expressed keen interest in investment in India under the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative as well as to look for cooperation in new and emerging high technologies, defence, under water ways, railways, steel, etc.
In terms of cooperation projection, the need for early operationalisation of USD one billion Lines of Credit in the Russia’s far east was discussed. Both sides also agreed on the need to realize the full potential of bilateral trade and for an early conclusion of the FATA and the bilateral investment treaty. The Russian side also expressed keenness of their private sector for participation in the International Solar Alliance.
The Foreign Secretary also inaugurated digital online library in the Indian Embassy in Moscow that would make available 4400 books on India in digital and online format.
Setting the tone for high-level exchanges during the year, the Foreign Secretary’s visit helped in strengthening the close, strategic, special and privileged partnership between India and Russia.