India for joint production of defence equipment with Russia

Stating that Russia will remain a key foreign policy priority for India, New Delhi on Monday called for joint defence equipment manufacturing between the two countries under the Make in India initiative.

“Russia is and will remain the key important foreign policy priority for India,” Vijay Gokhale, Secretary, Economic Relations, in the Ministry of External Affairs, said while addressing the Second India-Russia Heads of Think-Tanks Forum organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) here.

“It would not be out of place to state that this is a strong national consensus,” he said.

Contending that the past relationship between India and Russia should not transmute into a passive present partnership, he cautioned that “there is no room for complacency in our ties” for it “cannot remain isolated from global changes or be immune from their impact”.

Stating that Russia remained a major supplier of India’s defence requirements, Gokhale said that New Delhi appreciated Moscow’s “consistent support through the seven decades of our partnership”.

“At the same time, we believe that this is the opportune time to move from a buyer-seller format to joint production and joint investments under our Prime Minister’s ‘Make In India’ initiative, in order to bring a new dynamism to our military-technical co-operation,” he said.

“We invite Russian defence industry to look at our new policies in this regard and to partner us as India begins a journey to become a defence manufacturer.”

Holding cooperation in the energy sector was now embarking in new directions, Gokhale said that Indian investments in the Vankor and Taas-Yuryakh oilfields in Russia was symbolic of this and cooperation in nuclear energy is a cornerstone of the Strategic Partnership.

On the issue of regional connectivity issues, Gokhale, without naming China, said that such initiatives should take into account the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

“When speaking of connectivity, questions are asked whether India supports such regional and international initiatives. The answer is a categorical yes,” he said.

“It is important for such initiatives to be open, inclusive, transparent and financially sustainable. It is also essential that such initiatives are taken by all states with due sensitivity in respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, so that they are net contributors to regional stability and prosperity.”

India is against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiative, as it passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Expressing appreciation for the encouragement given by Russia to the Chabahar port project in Iran, Gokhal said that “we can successfully build connectivity and also engage with the Eurasian Economic Union to discuss ways of concluding free trade arrangements that are balanced and mutually beneficial”.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port, jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan, and opening a strategic transit route between India, Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations bypassing Pakistan.

By: Business Standard

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