India, Russia ink 28 pacts; decide to expand cooperation in dealing with terrorism

New Delhi, Dec 6 (PTI) India and Russia on Monday inked 28 agreements to further broad-base their partnership and vowed to expand cooperation and coordination in dealing with major challenges like the threat of terrorism and the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla described the summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin as “highly productive”.

He said 28 agreements that included government-to-government pacts were concluded between the two sides in a number of areas.

Asked whether India raised the issue of the eastern Ladakh standoff, the foreign secretary only said all concerns relating to India’s security were discussed.

At a media briefing, Shringla said Modi and Putin decided to continue close consultation and coordination between India and Russia on Afghanistan.

“Both sides were clear that Afghan territory should not be used for sheltering, training or planning any acts of terrorism,” he said.

The foreign secretary said there was a discussion in detail about cooperation in the strategic area of energy.

He also said that there was a lot of emphasis on counter-terrorism and both sides were clear that this is an area of common interests. Shringla said the two sides also stressed the need to fight cross-border terrorism.

In his initial remarks during talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Putin described India as a “great power” and a “time-tested” friend.

He also expressed concern over the developments in Afghanistan and said India and Russia will continue to coordinate on major challenges facing the region.

“We perceive India as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend. The relations between our countries are developing and we are looking into the future,” Putin said.

Modi said Putin’s second visit abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic reflected his personal commitment to the India-Russia ties and that the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two sides was getting stronger.

In the last few decades, the world witnessed many fundamental changes and different kinds of geopolitical equations and variables, but the friendship of India and Russia remained constant, Modi said.