India-Russia friendship has stood test of time: PM Modi

New Delhi:- The friendship between India and Russia has stood the test of time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, stressing the main contours of their relationship.

Virtually addressing the plenary session of the 6th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok, he said: “Most recently, it was seen in our robust cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic, including in the area of vaccines. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the health and pharma sectors in our bilateral cooperation.”

The Prime Minister pointed out that energy is another major pillar of the bilateral strategic partnership.

“India-Russia energy partnership can help bring stability to the global energy market. We envisage an energy and trade bridge. I am happy that the Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor is making headway. This connectivity project, along with the International North-South Corridor, will bring India and Russia physically closer to each other,” he said.

Applauding President Vladimir Putin’s vision for the development of the Russian Far East, Modi reiterated India’s commitment of being a reliable partner of Russia in this regard, as part of its “Act East Policy”.

“This policy is an important part of our special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia,” he said.

About bilateral cooperation, he said: “Today I am delighted that one of the India’s biggest ship yards Mazagon Docks Ltd will partner with (Russia’s) Zvezda for construction of some of the most important commercial ships in the world.

“India and Russia are partners in space exploration through the Gaganyaan programme. India and Russia will also be partner in opening of the Northern Sea Route for international trade and commerce.”

The Prime Minister highlighted that despite the pandemic-related restrictions, there had been good progress in strengthening business links in many areas.

“This include long-term supply of coking coal to the Indian steel industry. We are also exploring new opportunities in agro industry, ceramics, strategic and rare earth minerals, and diamonds.”

Modi also cited the separate interaction between diamond representatives from Sakha-Yakutia and Gujarat as part of this forum.

“I am confident that the one billion dollar soft credit line announced in 2019 will create many business opportunities between both countries,” he said.

The Prime Minister states that it is also useful to bring together the most important stakeholders regions of the Russian Far East and relevant states in India on the same platform.

“We should take forward the useful discussions that took place during the visit of the Chief Ministers of key Indian states in 2019. I would like to extend an invitation for the Governors of 11 regions of the Russian Far East to visit India at the earliest,” he said.

The Prime Minister mentioned that Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Puri is in Vladivostok to represent India in the forum.

Noting that Indian talent has contributed to the development of many resource-rich regions of the world, he said: “India has a talented and dedicated workforce, while the Far East is rich in resources. So there is a tremendous scope for Indian workforce to contribute to the development of the Russian Far East. The Far Eastern Federal University which is where this forum is being held is home to a growing number of students from India.”