x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

India says Russia 'key to foreign policy' ahead of Putin visit

Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai says relations with Russia are 'perhaps the most vital, most decisive' of India's strategic partnerships despite changes in the global political landscape.

NEW DELHI // Barely a month before the visit of the Russian president, Valdimir Putin, India has sought to dispel doubts about any tension in bilateral ties, saying Russia remained a key priority for India's foreign policy and sought greater economic ties with Moscow.

Speaking at the sixth India-Russia dialogue earlier this week, the foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai, described relations with Russia as "perhaps the most vital, most decisive" of India's strategic partnerships despite changes in the global political landscape.

"Even today, in this dramatically redefined post-Cold War world, our relations with Russia remain a key priority for India's foreign policy, and one which adds decisive value to our national capacities," Mr Mathai said at the dialogue, which was organised by the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank.

"We also like to believe that India continues to be as relevant to Russia. Our special and privileged strategic partnership today rests on a strong edifice built upon traditional pillars of cooperation," he said.

Despite differences in perception over India's civilian nuclear liability law, Mr Mathai said Russia was "a valuable partner in India's national civilian nuclear energy programme".

He added: "Despite the challenging events in recent times, when the safety of nuclear technology has globally come in for extra scrutiny, Unit 1 at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant will be commissioned shortly and will be a tangible first milestone of our nuclear cooperation.

"Enough scientific studies have been undertaken and experts have given us credible assurances on the high safety and security parameters of this plant," he said.

Mr Putin was expected to come to India for the 13th India-Russia annual summit on November 1, but postponed his visit to December 24.