NEW DELHI: In a reflection of time-tested India-Russia ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an important bilateral meeting after the conclusion of the SCO Summit on Friday with Russian President Vadimir Putin during which he stressed the importance of dialogue, democracy and diplomacy.
Modi spoke about “how to advance on the path to peace” — an obvious reference to efforts to end the Ukraine conflict — even as he flagged New Delhi’s concerns about the global energy, food and fertiliser crises following the Ukraine conflict that he said had affected developing countries the most. Modi said the bilateral meeting gave him a chance to listen to Russia’s viewpoint on the conflict and crisis.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting on the sidelines of SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. (Photo: PTI)
Prior to that, Modi held a surprise bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has been extremely critical of India on the Kashmir issue for the past several years, sparking speculation of a reapproachment between India and Turkey which is a close friend of Pakistan. Modi also had a bilateral meeting with the SCO Summit host Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
At the start of his bilateral meeting with Modi, the first after the Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine that started in February this year, in response, President Putin said he knew about India’s concerns regarding the global impact of the Ukraine conflict but blamed the Ukranian leadership which he said was not ready for peace and which wanted to resolve the issue “on the battlefield”.
President Putin invited Modi to visit Russia and referred to the additional supplies of Russian fertilisers to the Indian market at New Delhi’s request even as he pushed for visa-free tourist exchanges.
Modi thanked both Russia and its rival Ukraine for helping to evacuate thousands of Indian students who had been stranded there at the start of hostilities early this year. Modi also spoke about the decades-long historic friendship between India and Russia (and its earlier incarnation as the Soviet Union), adding that “for many decades we were with each other” and that “the whole world knows about” the India-Russia friendship.
Modi spoke about the high-profile political journeys of President Putin and himself that he said had begun at roughly the same time more than two decades ago when President Putin assumed office in Russia and when Modi had become Chief Minister of Gujarat.
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted, “PM @narendramodi met President Vladimir Putin of Russia on sidelines of the SCO Summit in Samarkand. Reviewed our bilateral cooperation and discussed various regional and international issues, including global food & energy security, terrorism & the current situation in Ukraine.” The PMO tweeted, “PM@narendramodi held talks with President Putin in Samarkand. The two leaders had productive discussions on a wide range of subjects aimed at further strengthening India-Russia ties. @KremlinRussia_E".
Prior to the meeting with President Putin, Modi met theTurkish President following which he tweeted, “Met President @RTErdogan and reviewed the full range of bilateral relations between India and Turkey including ways to deepen economic linkages for the benefit of our people”. The MEA Spokeperson also tweeted, “Useful discussions between PM @narendramodi and President @RTErdogan of Türkiye in Samarkand. Leaders reviewed bilateral relations and appreciated recent gains in bilateral trade. Also exchanged views on regional & global developments.” The PMO also tweeted, “PM @narendramodi held talks with President @RTErdogan on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Samarkand. The two leaders discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors. @trpresidency”
On the bilateral meeting with the Uzbek President and SCO Summit host Shavkat Mirziyoyev, New Delhi issued a statement that said: “The two leaders touched upon priority areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly trade, economic cooperation and connectivity. They stressed the need to make concerted efforts to diversify the trade basket and enter into long-term arrangements to promote trade and investment. Connectivity was considered key to unlock the potential in this regard, including greater usage of the Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor.“
“The leaders emphasised cooperation in fields like Information Technology, healthcare, higher education etc., based upon India’s developmental experience and expertise. Opening of Indian educational institutions and partnership between Uzbek and Indian universities was welcomed.”
New Delhi added, “Regional issues, including Afghanistan were discussed. The leaders were unanimous in their view that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for terrorist activities. The leaders attached great importance to the outcomes of the First India-Central Asia Summit held in January this year.”...