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From Trade to Space Cooperation: Highlights of Putin-Modi Talks at 21st India-Russia Annual Summit

© Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi (left) during a meeting at the Hyderabad Palace in New Delh
 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi (left) during a meeting at the Hyderabad Palace in New Delh - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that their nations share a "similar outlook" on major global events. During their first face-to-face meeting in over two years, Modi and Putin vowed to expand military and economic cooperation between their two nations, despite US reservations on close India-Russia ties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened for their first face-to-face meeting in over two years at the "21st Annual India-Russia Summit" in New Delhi on Monday evening.
In the lead-up to the Modi-Putin meeting, the foreign ministers and the defence ministers held separate meetings, before all four dignitaries convened for the maiden "2+2" Dialogue between Moscow and New Delhi. India currently enjoys a 2+2 Mechanism with just three other nations -- Australia, the US, and Japan.
Both nations signed an inter-governmental agreement on a programme for military-technical cooperation for 2021-2030, among four pacts during the meetings, laying a roadmap for increased military collaboration between the two nations over the next decade.
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A joint statement after the Modi-Putin talks highlighted the main discussion points between the two leaders, which included political and strategic cooperation, as well as economic, energy, military and security, science and technology, culture, and humanitarian cooperation.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla addressed a press briefing on the main points of the discussions between Modi and Putin during their talks. Shringla underlined that 28 new agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two countries, some even by the private sector, during the day's engagements.
"The diversity of agreements signed today reflect the multifaceted nature of our relationship", stated Shringla.

Trade, Investment, and Connectivity

Shringla said that the discussions on trade and investment formed a key part of the talks between Modi and Putin.
Both countries reiterated their pledge to increase bilateral trade by $30 billion by 2025. During his remarks at the meeting with Modi, Putin noted that two-way trade increased by 38 percent in the first nine months of 2021.
Cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector, India’s interest in procuring “essential commodities” from Russia, greater collaboration in agriculture, enhanced Russian involvement in the Indian shipbuilding industry and inland waterways industry were some of the topics discussed during the leaders’ meeting, as per Shringla.
He also said that increasing connectivity between the two countries formed a key discussion point in during the talks.

"The role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor figured in the discussions. The two leaders looked forward to greater inter-regional cooperation between various regions of Russia, in particular with the Russian Far East, with the states of India", said Shringla.

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He further informed media persons that the Chennai-Vladivostok shipping route connecting Indian to the Russia's Far East would be "operational soon".
Space and Nuclear Cooperation
Shringla said that cooperation in space and civil nuclear energy, as well as greater collaboration in cybersecurity, also figured during the official discussions.
“The Sides welcomed the active work carried out within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Space Corporation 'Roscosmos' and the Indian Space Research Organization on joint activities in human spaceflight program and noted with satisfaction the training of 4 Indian astronaut candidates from the 'Yuri Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center'”, said the joint statement.
The Indian foreign secretary said that both leaders laid a "lot of emphasis" on countering terrorism, adding that there was a "convergence" of views on the need to put a stop to "cross-border terrorism".
Shringla explained that it was agreed that terrorist entities must be dealt with strictly and groups responsible for past terrorist attacks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), must be dealt with strictly, as mandated by the United Nations (UN).
"The Sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure", read the joint statement.
The need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan also figured in the discussion between the two leaders, as per Shringla.
Both sides agreed for the need to have a “peaceful and a stable” Afghanistan and the two leaders backed the need for having an “inclusive government” in the Central Asian nation.
Further, Shringla pointed out that both India and Russia agreed that Afghanistan’s territory must not be used for sheltering or training terrorists or planning acts of terrorism against other countries.
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"They reaffirmed their firm commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including its financing, the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and countering radicalization, to ensure that Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism", the joint statement says.
Other Global Issues, Including Developments in the Indo-Pacific, Ladakh and Ukraine
The Indian foreign secretary further said that other major "global developments" were also discussed during the meeting, which include the ongoing military standoff between India and China in the eastern Ladakh region as well as the situation in Ukraine, among others.
"The Russian side briefed us on the situation in Ukraine during the 2+2 Meeting", said Shringla.
The foreign secretary further tried to assuage Russia's concerns as far as the involvement of US-led groupings such as AUKUS and the Quad are concerned, arguing that New Delhi wanted Moscow to be part of its Indo-Pacific initiative. Russia has been critical of both US-led initiatives and has accused Washington of promoting "anti-China" policies.
He said that the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is a step in that direction.
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