New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that India-Russia strategic ties have grown stronger despite the challenges posed by Covid, and thanked visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin for his personal investment in strengthening the bilateral partnership.
In his opening remarks ahead of the 21st annual bilateral summit with President Putin, PM Modi also thanked the Russian leader for taking time out from his busy schedule to visit India for their face-to-face summit, which is their first such meeting in two years.
“I know that in the past two years due to Covid this is your second trip abroad; and your visit today signifies your attachment to India, and your own personal involvement in taking forward the ties. Your visit also signifies the importance you attach to India-Russia ties,” said PM Modi.
“Despite the challenges posed by Covid there has been no change in the pace of growth in India-Russia relations. Our special and privileged strategic partnership has continued to grow stronger,” he added.
PM Modi said the two countries have been seeing very good cooperation in the fight against Covid, whether in vaccine trials and production, or in humanitarian assistance or in helping their stranded nationals return home.
He said 2021 is a very significant year for their bilateral relations, as it marks 50 years of the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation and also 20 years of the strategic partnership.
“In this significant year, being able to personally meet you for the bilateral summit is a matter of great joy to me,” PM Modi said, adding that President Putin has been the main driver behind the growth in the bilateral strategic partnership in the past 20 years.
“Many kinds of geopolitical changes have taken place, but in the midst of all the variables India-Russia friendship has remained a constant. Both nations have engaged with each other without hindrance, and have also kept each other’s sensitivities especially in mind. This is truly a unique and trusted model of inter-state friendship.”
Remarking on the inaugural 2+2 dialogue held between their defence and foreign ministers, PM Modi said with the move the two sides have begun a new mechanism to take forward the ties.
“We have been regularly in touch on Afghanistan and other regional developments. The regional partnership emerging from the Eastern Economic Forum and the Vladivostok summit has led to practical cooperation between our two nations in the Russian Far East. In order to strengthen our economic ties, we are going to adopt a long term vision,” he added.
He said the two sides have targeted USD 30 billion trade and USD 50 billion investment till 2025. “We need to guide our business communities in order to reach the target,” he added.
He said that the different agreements signed will help to support the Make in India initiative, and the defence partnership is becoming stronger with co-development and co-production. “In space and civil nuclear spheres too our cooperation is growing.”
He congratulated Russia on getting observer status in NAM and becoming dialogue partner in the IORA, adding, “in both the platforms it was our pleasure to back Russia’s candidature.”
“We both share similar views on many international and regional issues. We will get an opportunity to discuss these at the summit,” he added.