India, Russia to establish a '2+2 ministerial dialogue' between foreign, defence ministers

NEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday thanked President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s help and support in India’s fight against COVID-19 as the two leaders agreed to establish a “2+2 ministerial dialogue” between foreign and defence ministers to add further momentum to the bilateral strategic partnership.

In a statement following a telephonic conversation between Modi and Putin, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the Russian president expressed solidarity with the people and Government of India and conveyed that Russia would extend all possible support in their fight against the pandemic.

“Prime Minister Modi thanked President Putin and noted that the prompt Russian support to India was a symbol of our enduring partnership,” it said.

Russia now has become part of a small group of countries with whom India has 2+2 dialogue of foreign and defence ministers.

India has such mechamism with the US, Japan and Australia.

In a series of tweets, Modi said they reviewed diverse bilateral cooperation, especially in the area of space exploration and renewable energy sector, including in hydrogen economy.

The cooperation on Sputnik-V vaccine will assist humanity in battling the pandemic, he said.

“Had an excellent conversation with my friend President Putin today. We discussed the evolving COVID-19 situation, and I thanked President Putin for Russia’s help and support in India’s fight against the pandemic,” Modi tweeted.

Sputnik-V, a coronavirus vaccine, has been approved by the government for emergency use in India, a decision which Putin appreciated.

The two leaders noted that the Russian vaccine will be manufactured in India for use in India, Russia and third countries, the statement said.

A Russian statement said the first consignment of medical supplies from that country to India will include 22 tonnes of equipment, including 20 oxygen production units, 75 ventilators, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packs of medicine.

“Vladimir Putin supported Narendra Modi during this difficult period of combatting the spread of the coronavirus and informed him of the decision to send emergency humanitarian aid to India,” it said.

It said the two leaders welcomed the registration of the Sputnik V vaccine in India and noted its high efficiency and safety.

“They also expressed their satisfaction with the fact that the Russian Direct Investment Fund had reached an agreement with Indian companies to produce 850 million doses of Sputnik V. The production is to begin in May,” it said.

The Indian statement said Modi conveyed appreciation for the support received from Russia for India’s Gaganyaan programme and the completion of the Russian phase of training of the four astronauts for India’s first manned space mission.

  The two leaders also recalled important decisions taken during their last summit meeting in Vladivostok in September 2019, with Prime Minister Modi conveying that he looked forward to the Russian president’s visit to India later this year for the bilateral Summit which would provide an occasion to continue their “personal and trusted conversation”.

Putin assured Modi of Russia’s full support for the success of India’s presidency of BRICS during 2021, and the two leaders agreed to remain in close touch on bilateral and international issues, the statement said.