Rajnath Singh meets Russian counterpart, boosts India-Russia defence ties

PTI

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holds a bilateral meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow on Sept 3, 2020.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holds a bilateral meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow on Sept 3, 2020.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is in Moscow to attend a crucial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), met the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday.

The two leaders held wide ranging talks to further boost bilateral defence cooperation.

“Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries,” tweeted the Indian Defence Minister after the meeting.

The Indian Defence Minister also briefed Gen. Shoigu on the ‘Make-in-India’ defence programme in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat vision.

The two leaders also discussed and welcomed the advance stage of discussions for the establishment in India of an India-Russian Joint Venture for the production of AK203 assault rifles which are considered one of the most modern weapons available for infantry forces.

“General Shoigu reiterated commitment of the Russian side to engage actively with our MOD to ensure the success of ‘Make-in-India’ programme including substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February next year,” said the Defence Ministry in a tweet.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holds a bilateral meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow on Sept 3, 2020.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holds a bilateral meeting with the Russian Defence Minister, General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow on Sept 3, 2020.

At the key, SCO meeting, the defence ministers of all eight SCO member nations are expected to deliberate on regional security challenges like terrorism and extremism and ways to deal with them collectively here on Friday, officials said earlier.

The meeting is taking place under the shadow of a fierce border row between India and China, both members of the influential bloc.

After landing in Moscow, Rajnath Singh was received by Ambassador (D. B. Venkatesh Varma) and Major General Bukhteev Yury Nikolaevich at the airport.

The SCO comprises eight member states — India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe and Pakistan’s Pervez Khattak are expected to attend the SCO meeting.

Before his departure, Singh in a tweet had said that issues of mutual interest will figure in his talks with Shoigu.

“India and Russia are privileged Strategic Partners. Looking forward to further this partnership during my visit,” he had said.

It is Rajnath Singh’s second visit to Moscow since June. He had represented India at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on June 24 that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations which accounts for almost 44 per cent of the world population stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.

The aim of the SCO is to maintain peace, stability and security of the region. India became a member of the SCO in 2017.