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India and Russia on the same page on Afghanistan, says Moscow as it takes over UN Security Council presidency

Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Vasilyevich Vershinin in New Delhi (Image courtesy: MEA)

On a day it assumed the Presidency of the United Nations' Security Council, Russia today said that New Delhi and Moscow's stance on Afghanistan is quite "similar and identical" in many respects as it boils down to the fact that it is premature to talk about recognising the current government in Kabul right now.

Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, took over the rotating presidency on Tuesday. With its Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Sergey Vasilyevich Vershinin currently visiting India, the country has already given clear signals of growing partnership between the two countries, not just at the key international body but also in the turmoil-hit region.

"We expect the current Afghan leadership to fulfill obligations they have assumed. It is clear that humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people should be provided, and it is being provided by both Russia and India," said Vershinin today.

While Russia has been worried about the risk of infiltration of militants and drug dealers in the Central Asian region, including those disguised as refugees from Afghanistan, it has said that given Afghanistan's looming economic disaster, the current humanitarian steps are but a "drop in the ocean".

"We emphasise that attempts to talk to the new Afghan authorities in the language of ultimatums and pressure, instead of diplomacy, while using assistance for recovery and socio-economic development as leverage are counter-productive," Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's Charge d'Affaires at the Permanent Mission to the UN, had said at a UNSC briefing, last week.

New York, Geneva and Paris – India and Russia strengthen partnership 

During Vershinin's visit to New Delhi, both countries have held "wide ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and related developments" as the Russian minister met Reenat Sandhu, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and also the Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.  

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the both sides reaffirmed the identity or closeness of their countries' positions on major global and regional issues and expressed "mutual inclination" to further strengthen bilateral coordination on the "platform" of the Security Council.

"A thorough exchange of views made it possible to consider topical issues in the work of the Security Council, including the situation in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Myanmar, as well as the problems of combating terrorism and climate change," the Russian ministry said in a statement.

The Russian delegation also briefed India on its priorities during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. "Both sides agreed to work closely together, given the common challenges faced and in keeping with their long standing Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership," said the MEA.

The consultations were termed "business-like, detailed and friendly" by Moscow as it confirmed the desire of both India and Russia to strengthen coordination and interaction on major international issues, including on international platforms in New York, Geneva and Paris.

"We have held the planned Russia India inter-ministerial consultations on various issues of the multilateral agenda. India has been in the UNSC as a non-permanent member for the second year, and it was interesting and important for us to compare notes," the Russian Embassy in New Delhi tweeted Vershinin as saying on Tuesday.

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