Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions on the sidelines of President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sochi, May 21, 2018
Question: Could you share the outcomes of today's talks with us?
Sergey Lavrov: The talks were long, candid and friendly. Both leaders will continue to talk in informal settings.
In this group we discussed, in fact, all areas of our particularly privileged strategic partnership – this is how we refer to the Russia-India relationship. We focused particularly on the economy, in part the steady growth in trade of about 20 per cent last year and about 40 per cent in the first months of this year. We spoke in detail about the steps to be taken to ensure a strong economic foundation for the summit, which will be held in India in early October. In this regard, we noted the successful work of the joint Priority Investment Projects Group and the activities of the corresponding departments of our respective governments in developing a new mechanism. I’m talking about the action strategy for trade, economic and investment cooperation.
Energy issues were discussed extensively. Oil supplies from Russia to India increased tenfold over the past year. There are major plans for continuing cooperation between our oil corporations, primarily, Rosneft, which now enjoys an established presence on the Indian market. With regard to gas, Gazprom renewed this year the agreement with its Indian partners on supplying liquefied natural gas. Gazprom Neft has interesting plans and is also conducting negotiations with its Indian partners.
Well, we also covered the high-tech sphere such as nuclear power. All technical issues regarding the construction of the fifth and sixth units of the Kudankulam NPP have been worked through. The practical work is about to begin. We talked about plans in the sphere of peaceful use of nuclear energy. India is serious about taking an active part in implementing them.
In addition, we covered cooperation in the sphere of outer space exploration, including cooperation under our GLONASS project, aircraft construction, the automotive industry, pharmaceuticals and the chemical industry.
President Putin and Prime Minister Modi discussed our interaction in international affairs, such as at the UN and as part of the Russia-India-China troika, BRICS, and the SCO of which India became full member last year. We discussed preparations for the next SCO summit, which will be held in Qingdao, China, in early June. A number of documents will be signed there.
Russia and India focus particularly on the action programme to combat extremism, separatism and terrorism. We reaffirmed our support for the Indian initiative, which has been discussed at the UN for several years now, on developing a comprehensive convention on combating terrorism. We fully support it.
Much of the discussion revolved around the trends that we observe in the Asia-Pacific region (APR). President Putin and Prime Minister Modi expressed their unequivocal support for the new security and cooperation architecture in the APR to be based on the principles of non-alignment, openness and equal and indivisible security for all. In this vein, the sides mentioned the trends that are unfolding in Eurasia.
We noted with satisfaction that all formalities in contacts between India and the EAEU have been finalised. Talks are planned to be held in the autumn on creating a free trade zone between the EAEU and India. All these processes are in harmony with the developments in the SCO and relations between our countries and ASEAN members. This "major Eurasian project," as President Putin called it some time ago, is based on "real-life needs," does not shut the door in anyone’s face, and is open to all countries which can cooperate in this vast geopolitical space on mutually beneficial terms.
We discussed a number of other areas of our specific interaction in regional and international affairs, in particular, we confirmed that Russia and India will firmly oppose attempts to politicise the OPCW activities, which we recently observed.
Overall, the talks were fairly extensive. I am convinced that the ongoing informal communication between the leaders of Russia and India will be useful and will certainly shape further guidelines for promoting our strategic partnership.
Question: Are you going to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now?
Sergey Lavrov: That is off topic.