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India, Belarus likely to hold talks on drones, fertilizers as minister arrives in Delhi

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko (Courtesy: PIB)

Vladimir Makei, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Belarus, arrived in New Delhi early Wednesday on a two-day visit which takes place at a crucial time as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to escalate.

Makei will call on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar later today who also returned from a significant trip to Moscow early morning.

Belarus recognises India as an emerging global power and seeks to develop a “strategic relationship” with New Delhi.

Belarusian news agency BelTA reported last month that both countries are also mulling over setting up a joint company to make drones.

“There are a lot of orders coming from abroad. The director of the center [of unmanned aerial vehicles based on the Academy of Sciences] is currently in India holding talks to launch a joint venture with India. Indian specialists have studied the drones of a number of foreign manufacturers and give preference mainly to Belarusian developments,” it quoted Vladimir Gusakov, Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, telling Belarus 1 TV channel.

As the West imposed sweeping financial sanctions on the Alexander Lukashenko regime for backing Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine, the Belarusian President urged Asia to “seize the moment” and take the lead.

“The time for Asia is coming. People in Asia, in the East are very prudent, cautious, shrewd. With such an attitude Asia will not miss on emerging opportunities. Everyone is now looking for someone to rely on,” Lukashenko said recently highlighting the role played by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures (CICA).

Makei, during his trip to Iran late last month, also spoke about the need for a “new world order” which should be based on the generally accepted principles of the UN Charter.

In Moscow on Tuesday, Jaishankar too spoke on the “era of change” now being experienced by the international community and on the partners India and Russia continuing to engage each other in an increasingly multi-polar and re-balanced world.

Both ministers are expected to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations in New Delhi today, including political, economic, cultural, tourism, education matters (there are 941 Indian students estimated to be studying in Belarus) besides exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

While Minsk has been supportive of India’s candidature for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, India has supported Belarus for its membership in the NAM and also other international and multilateral fora like IPU.

India’s supportive stand on various resolutions in Geneva and New York (especially during India’s non-permanent membership of UNSC during 2021-22) targeting Belarus for violation of human rights and restrictions on freedom of expression have also been appreciated by Belarus.

In 2015, India also extended help through Line of Credit (LoC) of US$100 million to the export-oriented country with well-developed manufacturing industry, services sector and agriculture.

Both countries are also batting for an increase in bilateral trade which remains in favour of Belarus primarily on account of imports of Potash which too has been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sanctions and ban on export from the port of Klaipeda.

They also continue to explore ways to enhance cooperation in tourism as Indian art and culture, dance, yoga, ayurveda and films remain quite popular among Belarusian nationals.

“I will try to convince the producers to shoot a film here. Now it’s a bit difficult, but as soon as the situation normalizes, I will convince you to come here, see the locations and shoot a movie,” Indian Ambassador to Belarus Alok Ranjan Jha said recently.

Also Read: India-Russia relations insulated from headwinds from the West: Jaishankar