New Delhi: India and Russia are exploring a joint mechanism on Afghanistan to counter the increasing threat from radical militant groups in the region, as both sides search for approaches to deal with the complex situation.
The National Security Advisors of the two countries held talks here this week and discussed counter-terrorism measures, bilateral military and military-technical cooperation, situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Visiting Russian National Security Advisor Nikolair Patrushev and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval also touched on cooperation in outer space, energy and cyber security.
Mr Patrushev also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India and Russia are having an intense dialogue, as part of their strategic partnership.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in October, during which both sides agreed to ramp up the Defence and Security cooperation.
India participated in the last Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan at a non-official level.
India’s Ambassador to Russia D Bala Vekatesh Varma told the Russian International Information Agency Rossia Sevodnya this week that further bilateral consultations on Afghanistan could be held, before the end of this year.
“There will be consultations between diplomats and key figures in the foreign ministries of our countries responsible for the settlement in Afghanistan. The meeting will be held in New Delhi,” he said.
Last week, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, visited Moscow and St Petersburg and held discussions with Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Commander in Chief Russian Federation Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolev.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, India is interested in training its military at the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
“During the meeting with the academy’s leadership, the Indian military commander commended the level of training of the academy’s graduates, expressing the interest of the Indian side in training its military personnel within a special faculty of the academy,” said the ministry.
Admiral Lanba also delivered a lecture for the students of the General Staff’s Military Academy on the role of the Indian Navy in the maintenance of peace and stability in South Asia.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will be in New Delhi from December 12-13 to attend the inter-governmental commission on military cooperation, which will be chaired by his counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman.
The commission would review the long-term cooperation in the military-technical field.
Also this week, Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin is visiting India for the Fifth meeting of the bilateral inter-parliamentary committee. He would discuss topics that include cooperation in BRICS and the SCO.
The two sides ill exchange views on information technology, the development of economic relations, the digital economy, education and health care.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had visited Russia in 2017.
“I note that today there is an obvious interest in establishing working contacts between the international affairs committees of our parliaments,” said Varma.
India and Russia are looking for new opportunities for cooperation, especially economic cooperation.
The first India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in St. Petersburg on November 26. Both sides focused on five core areas – Transport Infrastructure, Agriculture and agro-processing sector, Small & Medium Business support, Digital Transformation and Frontier technologies, and Industrial and Trade Cooperation to identify areas where they could work together to further improve their trade and economic cooperation.
“The calendar of contacts is very dense … In addition to our cooperation in defence, energy, nuclear energy and space, we want to diversify our economic relationship, build new partnerships in terms of the Russian Far East, strengthen our North-South corridor between Russia and India through Iran,” Varma said told Parlaimentskaya Gazeta.
Prime Minister Modi has been invited to be the main guest at the next Eastern Economic Forum, which will be held in Vladivostok next September.
“There are consultations on cooperation in the Far East, I hope that by the time Prime Minister Modi will visit Russia in September 2019, we will already have certain agreements. We also note the development of the Arctic region, and this is a new area for cooperation between India and Russia, especially in the oil sector.”
India and Russia are planning to events to mark the 20th anniversary of their strategic partnership.
“We will have a bilateral summit, at which we plan to adopt a separate document on the upcoming anniversary of the establishment of a strategic partnership between India and Russia, therefore we expect a number of major events to follow after the summit. Most likely, it will be held in Vladivostok.”
The next round of Russia-India NSA consultations will take place in Moscow in 2019.