• Modi, Putin likely to sign 25 trade, defence, energy pacts

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a one-on-one dinner on Wednesday in Vladivostok in the backdrop of the 20th edition of an annual bilateral summit where both sides are expected to ink 25 pacts across sectors including defence, trade, investments, industrial cooperation, energy and connectivity corridors.

    At the dinner, the two leaders will look to further deepen their strong personal chemistry and explore steps to effectively coordinate on key global issues including the Af-Pak hotspot, ET has learnt.

    “During such conversations, the main international and regional problems, coordination in the international arena are discussed very frankly, confidentially,” Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian media at the Kremlin on Saturday.

    It may be recalled that in October, when Putin visited New Delhi for the annual summit, Modi had hosted him for a one-on-one dinner at his residence. In April 2018, when Modi visited Sochi for the informal summit, both spent time one-on-one and Putin, in a rare gesture, accompanied the PM to the airport before his departure.

    The two share a strong personal chemistry, which has contributed to qualitative improvement in the bilateral partnership over the last few years, according to informed sources. Russia was the first P-5 nation to support India’s recent moves on Kashmir.

    At the September 4 summit, the two leaders will also adopt a joint statement titled “Through trust and partnership to new heights of cooperation”, which will set the mood for deepening bilateral ties, including closer foreign policy coordination, according to Ushakov.

    On the same occasion, the Russian President, in a unique gesture, will hand over to Modi a stamp dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.

    The proposed agreements will also cover education and culture which would increase the intake of Indian students in top Russian educational institutes. Delhi and Moscow could also conclude a pact that will employ Indians at projects in the resource-rich Far East.

    “The very fact that the annual summit is being organized in Vladivostok (hub of Far East Russia) coinciding with the Eastern Economic Forum where the Indian PM is the Chief Guest showcases the importance given by both Delhi and Moscow to the region as part of their respective Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific strategies. The partnership in resource-rich Far East Asia is also critical to push bilateral trade volumes,” a source said.

    The two sides plan to conclude a roadmap for increasing investments and trade volume during the PM’s visit. The economic partnership so far lacks the depth of a strong strategic partnership.

    Before the summit, the two leaders will also jointly visit Zvezda shipbuilding complex — the ships built there in future can be used to deliver Russian oil and LNG to India, ET has learnt.

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