New Delhi, Apr 3 (PTI) Calling Russia as a “time-tested partner”, India today said it has strong political and military ties with it but there was a need to lend greater balance to the relationship by boosting economic cooperation.
In his address to the first-ever India-Russia Media Rountable hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs here, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also said a more ambitious target has been set to take bilateral trade to USD 30 billion by 2025.
“We enjoy a special and privileged strategic partnership.
These are words which have not been chosen lightly but bring about something really very distinctive about our relationship.
“And, we have worked really very hard, especially in the last two years, to give this relationship more content,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary, in the presence of Russia’s Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communication Alexey Volin, also said the roundtable being held on the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries was “particularly noteworthy”.
The event came ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in June to attend St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to which India has been invited as a guest country.
Addressing a gathering of delegates from top media houses from both sides, Jaishankar said, “I think in this country Russia is regarded as a time-tested partner, and you will see this when you even ask people in the streets their opinion on Russia. I can’t think of any other country that enjoys that degree of popular support.”
He also emphasised on the challenges the ties face particularly in the trade sector.
“One of the challenges we have faced is the economic cooperation. So, we have set ourselves a more ambitious target of USD 30 billion bilateral trade by 2025. At the same time, have tried to increase the cross-investment between India and Russia,” he said.
Jaishankar asserted that while the two countries enjoy a “very strong” political understanding and a “great history” of military, technical cooperation, it was also important today to “give greater balance to our ties with more trade and investment”.
He said in the age of global digital connectivity and technological shift, it was important that India and Russia have “more direct exchanges with each other”.
“Holding of this media roundtable is important as it provides such an opportunity.
“Also, I think in both countries, we could definitely improve coverage of each other’s news, we don’t really see enough of it. And, also we should get news directly rather than from a third party,” he added.
During a session the Russian side also proposed setting up of a joint media council to boost bilateral ties.
On expansion of economic cooperation, Jaishankar said, Opening of the transit corridor — International North South Transport Corridor– through Iran and the implementation of a green corridor between India and Russia would make customs facilitation more efficient.
He said one of the positive developments in Indo-Russia trade ties in the last one year, has been that “we have seen the largest FDI by any country in India…a consortium led by Rosneft”.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.