India opposes Russian decision to sell arms to Pak

NEW DELHI (TIP): India conveyed to Russia, June 18, its concern over Moscow’s decision to lift embargo on the supply of Mi-35 attack helicopters and defense equipment to Pakistan. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin that Moscow must keep in mind India’s sensitivities while dealing with its neighbors on defense-related matters.

Rogozin also held talks with Defense Minister Arun Jaitley. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin confirmed that the issue did figure during Swaraj’s four-hour meeting with Rogozin in the context of defense cooperation between India and Russia. Official sources said New Delhi had unambiguously told Moscow in recent days that it could not be business-asusual on the defense front between the two countries until Moscow reconsidered its decision. India imports nearly 60 per cent of its defense equipment from Russia.

The meeting between Swaraj and Rogozin was the first high-level contact between the two countries after the Narendra Modi government assumed office. The two ministers also discussed the possible dates for the annual summit between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Delhi towards the end of the year.

The two leaders are also scheduled to meet next month in Brazil on the margins of the BRICS Summit. The spokesperson said the principal focus of the talks was on how to harness the “untapped potential” of their economic ties and raise it from the $10 billion at present, of which Russian exports amount to $6.5 billion.

Both sides have decided to set up a joint feasibility study on a free trade agreement between India and Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which have formed the Eurasian Economic Union bloc. Swaraj informed the Russian minister that the first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant attained full capacity on June 7. The second unit was to attain criticality at the end of the year. In April this year, India and Russia signed an agreement to build units 3 and 4 of the power plant.

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