PM likely to discuss bilateral issues with Putin at Sochi meet
New Delhi: Playing out a nowfamiliar script, pm Narendra Modi will spend Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the seaside resort of Sochi in his second informal summit. The day-long programme will consist of both leaders engaging mainly in one-on-one discussions with aides being present during only a couple. Modi will return the same night, said sources.
Modi is stepping up a new kind of personalised diplomacy, of engaging directly at the highest level in an informal atmosphere, free from protocol, official agendas and outcome documents, even if there are some agreements that may be reached. While officials had earlier said that no bilateral issues would be discussed between the two leaders, it appears that bilateral issues may well make an appearance.
On Wednesday, Modi called Shinzo Abe, Japan’s PM for a longish chat where he briefed Abe on the Wuhan summit. The Modi-Xi summit in Wuhan went a long way in dispelling the mistrust that had built up. But officials insist that the India-Russia relationship is of deep trust.
Since Modi and Putin will be meeting again in June (SCO summit), July (BRICS summit in South Africa) and during the Russian President’s visit to India in October, outcomes are expected to be pushed back to later this year.
The Modi-Putin summit is expected to raise several issues including Russia’s newfound relationship with Pakistan and its flirtations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
If defence dominated the India-Russia relations earlier, the new focus is energy. India has invested almost $5 billion in Russia’s energy sector. A recent decision has seen both countries join forces with the intention of promoting civil nuclear energy in third countries. This is expected to be further fleshed out in the talks.
The summit comes at a time when Moscow is looked upon with suspicion in the US, UK and large parts of the western world. That has raised a slew of questions among India’s western partners. However, as Indian officials point out, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be holding her own summit with Putin this week, a sign that this may now become the norm.
Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin