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India attaches ‘highest importance’ to ties with Russia: Sushma Swaraj

sushma swaraj, india, russia, vladimir putin, pm narendra modi,narendra modi, vladimir putin in india External Affairs
Minister Sushma Swaraj

India attaches the “highest importance” to its relations with
Russia, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Friday, as
she conducted a comprehensive review of bilateral ties ahead of
President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to New Delhi early
next month.

Swaraj, who is visiting Russia for the third time in 11 months,
called on Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and two
leaders co-chaired the 23rd India-Russia Inter-Governmental
Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific Technical and
Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) meeting.

Swaraj, in a statement after the meeting said: “India and
Russia enjoy a special and privileged strategic partnership.

“This partnership has strengthened over time and covers a vast
agenda involving almost all sphere of human activity. India
attaches the highest importance to its relations with Russia”.

The commission has met in the run up to the 19th India-Russia
Annual Summit which is expected to be held in India early next
month, she said, adding that both sides are currently working
to prepare for this summit.

President Putin is expected to visit India for the summit with
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi.

“The Deputy Prime Minister and I have conducted a comprehensive
review of our relations. I am satisfied with the outcomes of
our meeting,” Swaraj commented after the meeting.

“I am confident that our deliberations today will further
strengthen our cooperation with Russia in all fields in
existing and new areas of cooperation,” the minister said.

The two sides discussed ways to enhance bilateral trade which
in 2017 reached USD 10.17 billion.

“We discussed ways and means to increase this momentum, ensure
balanced trade, and remove barriers to trade.

“Two-way investments have already crossed the USD 30 billion
target, which we had set for 2025. We have therefore proposed
that we enhance this figure to USD 50 billion by 2025,” she
said.

Swaraj said both sides also discussed the possibilities of
working together on projects in third countries.

“As a new dimension of our strategic partnership, there has
been a significant expansion in our cultural and tourism
exchanges,” she said.

Russia and India are on track to bring the trade turnover to
USD 30 billion in the coming years, Borisov said.

“Over the past years bilateral trade has reached solid growth
rates, which if maintained will help us hit the target of USD
30 billion in the coming years,” Borisov was quoted as saying
by Russia’s state-run Tass news agency.

At the same time he underlined the need to put in more efforts
to achieve a “breakthrough” in enhancing the trade.

Swaraj noted that a festival of India covering 22 cities over a
six month period is currently underway in Russia.

Tourism flows in both directions and has shown impressive
growth, she said.

India and Russia are working on further liberalising visa
regulations on both sides, Swaraj said as she welcomed the
initiative of the Russian government to enable electronic visas
for Indian nationals visiting the Russia far East.

“We have identified new areas of cooperation such as
agriculture, infrastructure, transport and Science and
Technology. We would like to expand our cooperation in the area
of space.

“We have agreed to organise the first ever India-Russia
Business Summit involving major companies from both sides in
early October in India,” Swaraj added.

The IRIGC-TEC is a standing body which annually meets and
reviews ongoing activities of bilateral cooperation in the
fields of bilateral trade and investment, science and
technology, culture and other issues of mutual interest.

The last meeting of IRIGC-TEC was held in New Delhi in
December, 2017.

On Thursday, Swaraj met her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov
and the two leaders had a good exchange of views on bilateral
and regional issues. PTI ZH CPS AKJ CPS

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