India would like to work more closely with Russia on taking forward co-op in Indo-Pacific: Shringla

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Moscow, Feb 17 (PTI) India would like to work more closely with Russia on taking forward the cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a meeting hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said no discussion on the relationship between Indian and Russia can be complete without the mention of the Indo-Pacific.

'We would like to work more closely with Russia on taking forward the cooperation in the region, in particular along with our friends from the ASEAN, South East Asia and under organisations like the ASEAN regional forum and the East Asia summit,' he said.

'From our perspective, it signifies the seamless interface of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean… We see it as a free, open and inclusive region which embraces all of us in a common pursuit of progress and prosperity in the region,' he said.

Shringla, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday on his first foreign trip this year, said that it was only 'fitting' that Moscow is his first abroad visit in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foreign Secretary, who met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, said his meetings were 'fruitful and productive'.

Shringla also mentioned India's desire to enhance cooperation with Russia in areas like civil nuclear power, defence, oil and gas and trade.

He said the counter-terrorism cooperation is an important area and the two countries are working together in multilateral and bilateral formats.

'We strongly believe there can be no justification for any or whatsoever form of terrorism whether it is based on ideological, political, ethnical or any other reason,' he said.

'We are convinced that unprecedented threat requires cooperation of all global communities without double standard and selectivity. Countries should work together to disrupt cross border terror networks and their financing. We call for early conclusion of international convention on terrorism to combat global terrorism. We should work together to combat terrorism,” he said.

Noting that India and Russia have a long history of working together at international and multilateral organisations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, G-20, he said, 'Our two countries regard establishment of multipolar, global relations as a reflection of inter-state relations in the 21st century.' 'A multi-polar world and a multi-polar Asia is important for both India and Russia and this is not possible without the involvement of both the countries,' he said.

He also said that there is a need to reform the UN particularly powerful UN Security Council to make it more representative of contemporary reality.

'It is a time to bring changes in the world body to make it more responsive and address new challenges we are facing,' he said.

'Traditional threats which the UN had seen like inter-state wars are today overtaken by new challenges, new threats and security concerns which we didn't have before. We are now talking about epidemics and pandemics, natural disasters, intra-state conflicts, humanitarian crisis, human rights crisis of all nature which were not there a few decades ago,' he said.

Shringla said India and Russia are cooperating closely with war-torn Afghanistan, which is currently going through a very critical phase.

'We are cooperating to make this area as stable as possible. We have provided USD 3 billion as project assistance in Afghanistan in areas like health, education and roads. Bringing peace in Afghanistan is important for bringing stability in the region and for global security. India and Russia are working together to ensure peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

'We are seeing an increasing level of violence which is not conducive for peaceful talks. We have advocated immediate and comprehensive ceasefire as talks and violence cannot go hand in hand,' he added. PTI PMS/SCY ZH AKJ ZH ZH