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Moscow: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India and Russia have strong and continuing contacts at various levels.

Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday held talks in Moscow covering a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interests.

In the opening remarks, Jaishankar said, “As you noted, there have been strong and continuing contacts between our governments at various levels. Prime Minister Modi and President Putin met most recently in Samarkand in September. Our Defence Ministers spoke to each other. My colleague National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was in Moscow in August. Our Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers was in Russia in June. And at the official level, I think, our colleagues have been in regular touch. And this is all very much in the spirit of our relationship.”

He further said that this is the fifth meeting between both Foreign Ministers which shows their long-term partnership.

The minister also said that today’s meeting is devoted to bilateral cooperation; exchanging perspectives on the international situation and also interests.

“Where bilateral ties are concerned, you would agree that it is our objective today to fashion a contemporary, balanced, mutually beneficial, sustainable and long-term engagement. Especially as our economic cooperation increases, this is a significant imperative. We would be discussing how our shared goals are best achieved,” he added.

Jaishankar, who arrived in Moscow on Monday, said, “Where the international situation is concerned, the last few years of the Covid pandemic, financial pressures and trade difficulties; these have taken a toll on the global economy. We are now seeing the consequences of the Ukraine conflict on top of that. There are also the more perennial issues of terrorism and climate change, both of which have a disruptive impact on progress and prosperity. Our talks will address the overall global situation and specific regional concerns.”

He also said that India and Russia engage each other in an increasingly multi-polar and re-balanced world.

Meanwhile, Lavrov said, “We coordinate our actions in international organizations such as UNSC where India is now a non-permanent member… all this is enriching our agenda and I’m confident that today we’re going to have a good conversation about all this.”

Since the start of the Ukraine conflict earlier this year, India’s bilateral ties with Russia have come under the scanner of the West for a surge in oil imports from sanctions-hit Moscow. The war in Ukraine which has continued for more than eight months has had a significant impact on global food security and has led to a sudden increase in crude prices.

Notably, India has not condemned Russia since the start of the conflict and has maintained its independent position. On several UN forums, New Delhi has consistently called for a cessation of violence and advocated peace and diplomacy.

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