India and Russia are against "outside influence" in the internal matters of any nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday after comprehensive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at finding new horizons of bilateral cooperation in key areas like defence, space, trade, oil and gas, nuclear energy and maritime connectivity.
Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day visit, is the first Indian prime minister to visit to the Russian Far East Region. "We both are against outside influence in the internal matters of any nation," Modi said in a joint press meet with Putin after their delegation-level talks at the India-Russia 20th Annual Summit following a two-hour tete-a-tete on board a ship. His remarks without naming any country came against the backdrop of tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality. Pakistan is trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India's decision on August 5. Russia has backed India's move on Jammu and Kashmir, saying that the changes in the status are within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Briefing the media later, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Prime Minister Modi explained to President Putin the rationale behind the decision and Russia stands firmly behind India on the issue. A joint statement issued later said the two sides "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."
The two sides signed 15 agreements/MoUs in areas such as defence, air, and maritime connectivity, energy, natural gas, petroleum and trade. "Today's talks with President Putin were aimed at finding new horizons of India-Russia cooperation. This includes opportunities in trade, security, maritime cooperation and working together to protect the environment," Modi said. He said a proposal has been made to have a full fledged maritime route between Chennai and Vladivostok.
The statement said the two leaders "agreed to facilitate, in all possible ways, exploring the impressive potential of our strategic partnership to the full, demonstrating its special and privileged nature which has emerged as an anchor of stability in a complex international situation." The two sides "prioritise strong, multifaceted trade and economic cooperation as the foundation for further expanding the range of India-Russia relations," it added. The two leaders decided to take the bilateral trade from the current USD 11 billion to USD 30 billion by 2025.
The two sides noted the pace of progress achieved in the construction of the remaining four of the six nuclear power plants at Kudankulam. Modi said Russia will help train Indian astronauts for the manned space mission - Gaganyaan. Noting that close cooperation in military-technical fields is a pillar of Indo-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership, the statement said the two sides vowed to upgrade their defence cooperation, including by fostering joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts. They shared the view that "implementation in good faith of universally recognised principles and rules of international law excludes the practice of double standards or imposition of some States of their will on other States." They called for reform of the UN Security Council to reflect contemporary global realities. Russia expressed its support for India's candidacy for a permanent membership of the UNSC. "The sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organised crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure," the statement said.
The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and called on the international community to set up a united front to fight against this evil. "They insisted on the inadmissibility of double standards in countering terrorism and extremism, as well as of the use of terrorist groups for political ends," the statement said. Both sides expressed concern over the possibility of an arms race in outer space and advocated peaceful uses of outer space. They reiterated their commitment to further strengthen global non-proliferation. Russia expressed its strong support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The two sides expressed their support for an inclusive peace and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan. They reaffirmed their commitment to building an equal and indivisible security architecture in Asia and the Pacific region. On his part, Putin said India is one of the key partners of Russia. Underlining the Indo-Russia cooperation in technical and military areas, he said, "We are successfully implementing our bilateral programme on military and technical cooperation up to 2020. We are working to update it to extend to another 10 years."