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Ahead of talks with Putin, Modi says will 'support' peace in region

Updated: Jul 12

The PM's message will be that the solution to Russia-Ukraine war will not be "found one the battlefield"; several agreements are expected at 22nd India- Russia Summit; economic issues to drive talks

The solution to the Russia-Ukraine war will not be "found on the battlefield" is the message Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to deliver, even as he and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet on July 9 for structured talks and the 22nd Annual bilateral Summit. The two leaders met on Monday night for a personal dinner hosted by Mr. Putin at his Dacha in the Moscow suburb of Novo-Ogaryovo to set the tone for the visit, embracing each other, and discussing Mr. Modis return to office for a third term.

In formal talks on Tuesday, economic issues and the issue of discharge of Indians "misled" into joining the Russian military on the Ukraine warfront will be at the top of India's wish list.

Mr. Modi arrived in Moscow on July 8, and was received at the Vnukovo-II VIP airport by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, indicating the importance of his visit, the first time the leaders will hold the annual summit in three years, and Mr.

Modi's first bilateral visit abroad after re-assuming office in June.

"We expect economic issues to be the driver of the agenda," government sources said here, explaining that two years of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have led to many geo-economic changes that the two leaders would have to "take stock" of. "It is clear that no solution can be found to the conflict on the battlefield and this is also the view of the global south. Both parties must be on the table to find solution through dialogue and diplomacy," the sources said, about the stance Mr. Modi is expected to take. While officials have dismissed comparisons on the timing of the summit, it will take place even as NATO leaders gather in Washington for a special summit where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Asian countries backing western sanctions against Russia are invited.

FULL REVIEW OF TIES

In a departure statement before leaving for Moscow, Mr. Modi had said that he looked forward to a full review of bilateral ties and perspectives on global and regional issues with his "friend President Vladimir Putin". "We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region," Mr. Modi added, indicating that india may not mediate, but remains ready to support the key stakeholders in resolving their issues.

According to sources, India and Russia will sign "several" documents at the end of the talks on Tuesday, including a comprehensive joint statement, a vision statement, the future course on energy and trade, cooperation on investments in Russia's Far East and a number of MoUs. The two sides are also discussing India's desire to open new consulates in Russia, the sources confirmed. In particular, the two sides are expected to announce an agreement on facilitating trade, while officials are hopeful they will see more predictable long-term commitments on the issue of energy and fertilizer supplies from Russia. On the military front, no new agreements are expected to be announced, although a military logistical "RELOS" agreement was still being finalised, and officials have been discussing expediting Russian equipment deliveries that have been delayed. Signing enabling MoUs to take forward the 2019 agreements on cooperation in Russia's Far East, that were inked during the 20th Annual Summit in Vladivostok is expected to be a priority as well. In the past few months, port and shipping officials have been working on setting up the viability of the Chennai-Vladivostok eastern maritime corridor where industry insiders say will cut short trade transit by 35 days, encouraging trade in perishables like fruit as well as much needed automobile spare parts, textiles, building materials for Russia.

"There is a great demand in the Russian Federation for so many items Indian companies could export, but due to international sanctions by western countries, they are unable to serve them," Chennai-based P. Thangappan, Secretary General of the Indo-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industries, told The Hindu, stressing that both sides should "incentivise" the use of Rupee-Rouble national currencies for trade facilitation.

Mr. Modi will begin the day on Tuesday with an address to the Indian community where he will outline India's policies and some of those concerns, sources said. He will then pay respects at the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" at the Red Square, after which President Putin will join him for an exhibition dedicated to India- Russia cooperation in nuclear power organised by the ROSATOM agency. The two leaders will then hold "restricted" formal talk for the Annual Summit, after which President Putin is expected to award Prime Minister Modi the Russian Order of St. Andrew, an award announced in 2019.

In all, the two leaders will spend about eight hours together, indicating the intensity of their conversations, which, sources said sent a "message" that the India-Russia relationship is a "priority that needs to be delivered on.

Mr. Modi will leave on Tuesday evening for Vienna for another bilateral visit. In his statement on Monday, Mr. Modi said he would meet Austrian Chancellor, who will host a dinner for him on Tuesday, and they would discuss "new and emerging areas of innovation, technology and sustainable development" as well as India-Austria growing trade that currently stands at a meagre U.S. $2.9 Bn and investment opportunities.







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