Modi in Russia for informal summit with Putin

NEW DELHI (ANN Desk) - The meeting between the two leaders is the first since the re-election of Putin as the President of Russia.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his way to Russia to attend an informal summit with President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 21. The informal summit comes less than a month after a similar meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The meeting between the two leaders in the coastal Russian city is also the first since Putin's re-election as the President.

Before leaving for Russia, Modi tweeted in both Russian and English that he was looking forward to his meeting with Putin.

“I am confident the talks with President Putin will further strengthen the special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia,” he posted.

India's foreign ministry, in a statement, described Modi’s visit to Russia as an important occasion for him and Putin to exchange views on international matters in a broad and long-term perspective.

“Both leaders will discuss their respective national developmental priorities and bilateral matters,” the statement said.

It said the meeting was "in keeping with the tradition of regular consultations" between the two nations "at the highest levels". 

The Kremlin has said Modi and Putin will discuss "key issues of developing the Russian-Indian privileged strategic partnership" and "pressing items on the international and regional agenda".

The meet comes close on the heels of the US government's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and weeks before a scheduled meeting between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

North Korea and America's pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) are likely to be talking points - as are the Syrian conflict, the Islamic State (ISIS), the threat of terrorism and matters relating to the upcoming SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and BRICS summits.

The two leaders may also deliberate on extending Indo-Russia civil nuclear cooperation to third countries, possible areas for cooperation for the International North-South Transport Corridor project, India’s engagement with the five-nation Eurasian Economic Union and the situation in the Korean peninsula.

The possible impact of US sanctions against Russia under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on Indo-Russia defence cooperation may also figure during the talks between Modi and Putin.

However, some observers believe the summit is an outcome of growing concerns about the stagnation of India-Russia relations. Though Russia remains the largest supplier of hardware to India's military, it is being edged out of the lucrative market by players such as Israel and the US. India has also been concerned by Russia's growing military ties with its arch-rival Pakistan. 

Putin is expected to visit India later this year for an annual bilateral summit. Russia and Japan are the only two countries with which India holds annual bilateral summits.

Earlier this month, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale visited Moscow to discuss a way out of US sanctions on Russian firms.

Sanctions against Russian oligarchs and companies – including Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian weapons trading company – have raised concerns in India about a possible impact on military buys from Moscow.

Modi could push his government's flagship indigenous manufacturing drive - Make In India - while Putin could bring up Moscow's own agenda, which he outlined in a recent speech, according to media reports.

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