In Russia, PM Modi thanks Putin for support on Jammu and Kashmir stand
India has told the world community the changes in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter and Moscow has backed New Delhi’s moves, saying they were within the framework of the Indian Constitution.Updated: Sep 04, 2019 23:59 IST
India and Russia are opposed to “external interference” in the internal affairs of any country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as the two countries signed several energy deals to bolster bilateral economic ties.
Although Modi didn’t name any country in his remarks following the annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Far East port city of Vladivostok, they came against the backdrop of Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise India’s move to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last month.
“Both of us are against external interference in the internal affairs of any country,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi during a joint media interaction with Putin. The Russian leader described India as a “key partner” and said he maintained “close official and personal ties” with Modi.
India has told the world community the changes in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter and Moscow has backed New Delhi’s moves, saying they were within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told a media briefing that Modi had explained to Putin the rationale behind the changes in Kashmir and thanked the Russian President for giving a “clear message” on the issue. He added that Russia stood firmly behind India on its stand regarding Kashmir.
A joint statement said the two sides “emphasised their commitment to…principles stated in the UN Charter, including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of member states”.
With India-Russia trade stagnating in recent years, Modi and Putin decided to increase trade from the current annual level of about $11 billion to $30 billion by 2025. The two sides signed 15 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in fields such as energy, defence, and air and maritime connectivity.
Besides an agreement on a strategy to enhance bilateral trade, they also signed a pact on joint production of spare parts and other items for Soviet-era and Russian weapons and military hardware. They also signed a road map for cooperation in hydrocarbons during 2019-24.
India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG agreed to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Novatek and invest in its future projects. The two companies will also look at joint marketing of gas as a motor fuel in India.
Coal India signed a deal to mine coking coal in Russia’s Far East, and private company H-Energy is looking at buying LNG from Novatek. Besides investing in each other’s future LNG projects, Novatek and H-Energy plan to set up a joint venture to market LNG in India, Bangladesh and other markets.
GAIL (India), which has a 20-year contract to buy LNG from Gazprom, is looking to acquire a minority stake in the Arctic LNG-2 project led by Novatek.
“We have had a major breakthrough in the energy sector. This is a sector where we are looking to diversify our sources of supplies and we are increasingly finding it attractive to buy oil and gas from Russia,” Gokhale told the media.
India’s move to strengthen energy ties with Russia has nothing to do with issues faced by the country in purchasing oil and gas from Iran, he added. He said Iran had been a reliable and major supplier of energy to India, which is now looking to diversify sources because of growing energy requirements.
Modi, who is also the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok on Thursday, travelled on a corvette from Ajax Bay to Zvezda shipyard. They were briefed about the shipyard’s modernisation and inspected models of ships.
They also held one-on-one and delegation-level talks at the Far Eastern Federal University.
Modi also said after the talks that Indian astronauts will be trained in Russia for the country’s first manned space flight. The two sides also have meaningful discussions on major global and regional issues, and India wants to see an Afghanistan that is independent, safe, united, peaceful and democratic, he added.
The joint statement said both countries will intensify work to eliminate barriers to trade, including protective measures, customs and administrative barriers. They will also work on promoting mutual settlement of payments in national currencies, it added.
Civil nuclear cooperation is an important component of the India-Russia strategic partnership and the two sides noted the progress in the construction of the remaining four of six nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. “Both sides engaged in discussion on the second site and welcomed continuation of technical discussions on the VVER 1200 of the Russian design and joint manufacturing of equipment and fuel,” the statement said.