India-Russia relations not influenced by ties with other countries: MEA

India’s relations with Russia are time-tested and strategic and are not influenced by ties with other countries, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.

Bagchi was responding to questions during the weekly news briefing on Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Pakistan after a trip to India, and Moscow’s offer to supply military equipment to Islamabad.

Lavrov’s visit to India provided a “good opportunity to renew and review our special and privileged partnership” and a broad range of issues were discussed, he said.

While declining to comment on Lavrov’s visit to Pakistan, Bagchi said: “India’s close, time-tested and strategic relations with Russia stand on their own merit and are not influenced by relations with other countries.”

He added, “As regards the supply of defence equipment by Russia to Pakistan, you are aware of India’s well-known position on this and I need not repeat it.”

Lavrov had said at a joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday that Russia stands ready to supply special military equipment to Pakistan to strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities.

Lavrov, the first Russian foreign minister to travel to Islamabad in almost a decade, also met Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who raised the Kashmir issue during their talks.

There was no meeting between Lavrov and the Indian prime minister during his two-day visit to New Delhi.

In response to another question, Bagchi dismissed speculation about Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelling to Pakistan for a possible summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Several reports in the Pakistani media had speculated that Modi could visit Pakistan for the summit later this year.

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“Regarding speculations about the SAARC Summit, I have nothing to share with you at the moment,” Bagchi said.

Asked if there were channels of communication between India and Pakistan, he said, “Let me just recall that our respective high commissions exist and are functioning, so that’s a very effective channel of communication.”

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