Narendra Modi becomes first Indian PM to visit Russia's Far East, extends $1bn credit line for development of region

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian premier to visit the Far East Russia on Wednesday

  • Modi remembered visiting Russia in 2001, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister

  • Announcing $1 billion loan for the development of Russia's Far East, Modi said it was a 'unique case' of India providing such special credit line

Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian premier to visit the Far East Russia on Wednesday, where he extended a credit line of $1 billion for the development of the region.

His two-day visit aimed at underlining “the desires on both sides to diversify and further strengthen the bonds”. After landing in Vladivostok, Modi attended the fifth Eastern Economic Forum as a chief guest and then held the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit along with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“The forum focuses on the development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East region, and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in this region,” Modi said.

In a joint conference held with Putin, Modi remembered visiting Russia in 2001, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. “India and Russia realise the importance of a multipolar world. We are working together on many global forums like BRICS and SCO. We both are against outside influence in the internal matters of any nation,” he said.

A joint statement issued later said India and Russia "underlined the primacy of international law and emphasised their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of member states".

Modi also said that a proposal has been made to have a full-fledged maritime route that serves as a link between Chennai and Vladivostok.

The prime minister also visited the Zvezda shipbuilding complex with Putin, which Modi said is "poised to make a huge contribution to the development of Arctic shipping".

The launch of a Russian-Indian joint venture for manufacturing AK-203 Kalashnikov assault rifles in India will bring bilateral cooperation in the military and technical area to a new level, Modi said on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

On Wednesday, Putin and Modi signed 15 agreements, MoUs to strengthen bilateral ties. He also attended the Far East Street Exhibition.

On Thursday, Modi met his Japanese, Malaysian and Mongolian counterparts Shinzo Abe, Mohammed Mahathir and Khaltmaagiin Battulga.

Following his meeting with Abe, Modi tweeted that the two leaders discussed a wide range of subjects, particularly those focussing on bettering trade and cultural relations. "Our countries are also working together on various global forums to create a better planet," he wrote. The two leaders met for the second time, after the G20 Summit in Osaka in June.

"A global partnership reinforced by robust bilateral ties. Modi met with Abe on the margins of the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok. Discussed deepening multi-faceted ties in economic, defence and security, start-up and 5G areas and exchanged views on the regional situation," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

Modi explained to Mahathir the rationale behind his government's decision on Jammu and Kashmir and sought the extradition of radical televangelist Zakir Naik, wanted in India for alleged money laundering and inciting extremism.

Modi also met President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga and the two leaders discussed a range of issues of bilateral interest, including strengthening of cultural, spiritual and people-to-people ties.

India and Russia are beginning a new era of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to make it "open, free and inclusive", Modi said on Thursday, amidst China flexing its military muscles in the strategic region.

At the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Modi said, "When ships will start plying between Vladivostok and Chennai with the opening of the maritime routes between the two cities, the Russian port city will become the springboard of northeast asia market in India. This will further deepen the India-Russia partnership." Modi added that the partnership between India and Russia in the development of the Far East will make it a "confluence of open, free and inclusive Indo-Pacific".

Announcing $1 billion loan for the development of Russia's Far East, Modi said it was a "unique case" of India providing such special credit line to a region in another country. "For the development of the Far East, India will give line of credit worth $1 billion. My government has actively engaged East Asia as part of its 'Act East' policy," Modi said.

The prime minister then unveiled his government's "Act Far East" policy to boost India's engagement with Russia's Far East region, blessed with oil, gas and other minerals. The Far East, Modi said, will become the bedrock of a strong India-Russia tie, which is based on the principles of "rules-based order, sovereignty, respect for territorial integrity and is against engaging in the internal matters of other countries".

Modi said Russian writer-philosopher Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi had an "indelible effect" on each other and urged the two nations to take inspiration from them to further strengthen the bilateral ties. He said India and Russia should be a bigger stakeholder in each other's development.

Modi expressed confidence that the "professionalism" of the Indian diaspora will help in the speedy development of the region, which is blessed with abundant natural resources. "Indian companies and industrialists have contributed to wealth creation and development of various sectors worldwide. Indian diaspora has always respected local culture and sentiments. I am sure the money, talent and professionalism of Indians will help in bringing speedy development in the region," he said.

The prime minister also paid tributes to the hard work and courage of the people living in the Far East who he said "have turned the frozen land into a flower bed".

The prime minister said India and Russia's Far East have enjoyed close ties for ages. "India is the first country to open its consulate in Vladivostok. During the era of the Soviet Union, Vladivostok had opened its doors for India at a time when the area was restricted for foreigners. During that time, goods for defence and other development used to reach India through Vladivostok," he said.

Modi, Putin, Abe and other leaders also attended the Jigoro Kano Judo Tournament, where Modi interacted with the judo players from India.

In a conclusive post that came when his Far East visit ended, Modi wrote, "The outcomes of this visit will bring Russia and India closer. Gratitude to President Putin, the Government and people of Russia for their hospitality."

Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 23:14:58 IST