“We are friends with India. We are doing utmost so that peace and tranquillity is established between India and China. RIC format has contributed to peace and stability and the last meeting of the foreign ministers had political dialogue and RIC dialogue is continuing at various levels,” Lavrov told ET from Moscow over video-meet during his annual press meet. ET was the only Indian media invited to participate in Lavrov’s press meet.
ET had last year reported that Russia has emerged as a political factor in the Sino-Indo tensions. It had engaged in quiet back channel diplomacy to try and defuse tensions and utilised its presidency of BRICS-SCO-RIC to organise meetings between Indian and Chinese ministers. India hosts the current presidency of BRICS and RIC. India will also host annual summit with Russia this year after it was postponed in 2020 due to Covid. It will be preceded by Russian ministerial visits here and other high-level trips between the two capitals.
In response to ET’s query on bilateral partnership amid geopolitical changes, Lavrov described India as a very special, very privileged and very strong partner across all sectors and informed that he is having dialogue with his good friend and Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar for an inclusive Indo-Pacific region amid efforts by some powers to create division in the Indo-Pacific region.
“India is aware of the powers who are against inclusive Indo-Pacific region. These powers are trying to create divisions in the Indo-Pacific region. But India is moving in positive direction. Asean partners also feel that some powers are trying to create divisions in Indo-Pacific region and Asean centrality is being lost.” The minister recalled that his past statements on Indo-Pacific region may have caused discomfiture but said he wanted to assure the Indian public about Russia’s commitment to India.
Pointing out that Indo-Russian ties have grown from strength to strength, Lavrov emphasised that from strategic partnership the two sides became privileged strategic partners and then special privileged partners since PM Narendra Modi came to power. “I am sure we will have deeper strategic partners in future… the two sides may not always meet eye to eye, 100 per cent on all issues but the leaders of both sides have wisdom to overcome any difficulties.”
Meanwhile as part of strengthening India-Russia ties, Russian authorities said on Saturday that flights between Moscow and Finland, Vietnam, India and Qatar, suspended since the early weeks of the pandemic, would restart from January 27, after certain epidemiological criteria were met.