Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday held talks with his Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu on a wide range of issues, particularly on how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries. Singh who arrived in Russia’s capital Moscow on September 2 is on a three-day visit to attend a crucial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Calling the meeting ‘excellent’ Singh “conveyed appreciation for the steadfast support provided by Russia consistent with the defence and security needs of India”. In this context, he particularly noted the timely manner in which the Russian had responded to requests for procurement of particular weapon systems. Both sides would continue to maintain contacts to ensure timely delivery.

Singh briefed Shoigu on the ‘Make-in-India’ defence programme in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Aatma Nirbhar Bharat vision. Both sides welcomed the advance stage of discussions for the establishment in India of an India-Russian Joint Venture for the production of AK203 assault rifles which are considered one of the most modern weapons available for infantry forces.

This provides a very positive basis for further engagement of the Russian defence industry in ‘Make in India’ programme, according to an official statement. Shoigu reiterated the commitment of the Russian side to engage actively with India to ensure the success of ‘Make in India’ programme including substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February 2021.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Singh tweeted, “Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries.”

On Thursday, Singh had a one-hour meeting with the Russian Defence Minister at the Russian Ministry of Defence. The meeting was marked by the traditional warmth and friendship, characteristic of the Special and Privileged Partnership between India and the Russian Federation in which Military-Technical Cooperation and Military-to-Military cooperation constitutes an important pillar.

The Defence Minister extended an invitation for General Shoigu to visit India for the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission for Technical and Military Cooperation which is expected to be held towards the end of 2020.

General Shoigu conveyed his warm appreciation to Singh for his participation in the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade at Red Square on June 24 2020, and his participation in the joint meeting of the SCO, CIS & CSTO countries. His meeting with Singh was the first meeting he was having with visiting Defence Ministers.

The meeting covered a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries. It was noted that this meeting coincides with the Indra Naval Exercises to be conducted by the Indian and Russia navies off the Straits of Malacca over the next two days.

Singh noted that these exercises demonstrated the common interests of both countries in maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region. There was a substantial commonality in positions with respect to challenges at the regional and international levels in the areas of peace and security, reflective of the deep trust and confidence that both sides enjoy as Strategic Partners.

Singh, accompanied by a delegation including Defence Secretary and other senior officials is visiting Moscow to participate in the 75th Anniversary Event to commemorate Victory Day by the Russian Federation in the meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.





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