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‘Great opportunity for PM Modi, President Putin to talk’: EAM Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Photo: ANI)

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said that the biggest change in relations with Russia is that the economic relationship between the two countries has improved tremendously.

Speaking to ANI, Jaishankar said that it will be a great opportunity for PM Modi and Russian President Putin to sit and discuss the relationship.

“It is a way of taking stock of any relationship… one of the biggest changes has been, that our economic relationship with Russia has grown tremendously… at the leadership level, it will be a great opportunity for PM Modi and Russian President Putin to sit down and directly talk to each other,” he said.

Jaishankar said that because of the varied preoccupations of both- PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the annual summit was a bit delayed.

“There was a bit of a delay in our annual summits, it is a good tradition, we are two countries which have a strong history of working together. We did value the need for an annual summit. Last year when I went to Moscow, I carried a message from the PM that we are committed to the annual summit and we will do it sooner rather than later…it is a regular recurrence. It is a way of taking stock of any relationship,” he said.

He said that both countries have a steady history of working together. “We look at the happenings around the world and see if we want to make any amends to a situation, we meet and discuss. This meeting was something that was waiting to happen.”

When asked if he raised the issue of Indians stranded in the Russia-Ukraine conflict zone, during his bilateral with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, EAM Dr S Jaishankar said, ” …Absolutely…very clearly and strongly… several Indians have been pressed into services with Russian Army, only when they come back we will know the full circumstances. But, whatever the circumstances are, to us it is unacceptable that Indian citizens find themselves in the army of another country in a warzone. I told him that we seek their cooperation and that they are our friend and partner. We have to find a way so that these people can return to India as quickly and effectively as possible. He appreciated the point… The Foreign Ministry has been speaking to the Russian Defence Ministry in this regard. I urged him that we need a much stronger follow-up…I have taken it up and I intend to continue taking it up until all our people there come back.”

EAM Jaishankar represented India at the SCO Summit, which was held under Kazakhstan’s presidency in Astana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on an official visit to Russia and Austria from July 8-10.