Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday confirmed that he will visit Vladivostok in early September, in a new focus on the far east of Russia. Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin also agreed on a series of government, business and state-level visits to the region before the PM’s visit.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that Putin invited Modi to be the main guest at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEC) in Vladivostok, Russia, in September, and he warmly accepted the invitation. The event will take place from September 4 to 6.
“We will do serious preparation on our side that this participation at the EEC is meaningful,” Gokhale quoted the Prime Minister as telling Putin. This is in tune with India’s interest in the Pacific and the Act East policy as well.
In 2017, Modi had visited St Petersburg and addressed the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) together with Putin. India was the Guest Country at the SPIEF in June that year.
On Thursday, the two leaders recognised that the new areas of cooperation are the Russian far east and Arctic region. These places are extremely mineral-rich and Delhi is tapping into the potential benefits.
In the run-up to the Vladivostok visit, which will also witness the annual summit meeting between the two leaders, Gokhale said that Modi wants visits by Indian business and interested states to the region to explore areas of cooperation.
Major high-level government visits — by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar and other ministerial visits — are likely to take place before September.
Modi thanked the Russian President for his support for the AK-203 Kalashnikov rifle manufacturing unit in Amethi, an India-Russia joint venture. The unit was inaugurated by Modi in March in Korwa near Amethi. “This showed that we are moving away from the buyer-seller relationship to Make in India and technology transfer,” the foreign secretary said after the meeting.
Putin also expressed interest in Russian participation in the modernisation of Indian railways, and the Nagpur-Secunderabad line. He said that defence and energy were key focus during their talks. The two leaders also reviewed trade and investment ties and noted that they were on an upward trajectory.
Gokhale said the two leaders had a “very warm and friendly” meeting and the “personal friendship was evident”, as they have a relationship as “colleagues”. The relationship with Russia, he said, is an “old relationship based on trust”.
Putin recognised PM Modi’s personal contribution in strengthening bilateral relations and said that Russia awarded its highest state honour, ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’, to him for initiatives he has taken to develop the bilateral relationship.
Gokhale said there will be a Russia, India and China trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the
G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month.
“PM @narendramodi and President Putin had a wonderful meeting in Bishkek. Various subjects pertaining to India-Russia relations were discussed during the meeting,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.