Russia wants India to join China’s Belt and Road initiative

12 Dec 2017


Russia has suggested that India find a way to join China's massive Belt and Road infrastructure development plan aimed at building trade and transport links across Asia, Europe and beyond.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said political problems should not deter New Delhi from joining the project, involving billions of dollars of investment.

India, however, is strongly opposed to China building an economic corridor in Pakistan that runs through disputed Kashmir, which is part of the Belt and Road initiative.

India also stayed away from a May summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to promote its modern-day Silk Road project.

Foreign ministers of Russia and China are in India for the 15th Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting, being hosted by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

Lavrov was speaking after a three-way meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. The three countries are expected to review global and regional issues of common interest.

''I know India has problems, we discussed it today, with the concept of One Belt and One Road, but the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,'' he said.

Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations had signed up to the Chinese project to boost economic cooperation, he said.

''Those are the facts,'' he said. ''India, I am 100 per cent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process.''

While Russia continues to be India's ally, Lavrov'ds comments only reflected the differences within the trilateral grouping formed 15 years ago to challenge US-led dominance of global affairs.

A long-standing border dispute and China's policies of growing at the cost of other nations has made substantial cooperation with that country difficult for India.

In fact, it is China's hegemonistic tendencies that are driving India more and more towards the United States.

Lavrov and Wang Yi today met President Ramnath Kovind, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

Welcoming the Russian foreign minister and his delegation to India, the President said that India-Russia bilateral ties are strong. This year we have witnessed intensification in our high-level engagements.

The president was happy to note that bilateral trade between India and Russia registered a growth of 22 per cent in the first six months of this year. He stated that early operationalisation of the International North South Transport Corridor can play a significant role in achieving our bilateral trade targets.

The President said that institutionalisation of the India-Russia Heads of Think Tanks Forum, which held its 2nd session in Delhi on December 4-5, would be most helpful to both countries. We should continue with our efforts to bring our think tanks and academic communities closer.

On India-China ties the President said India viewed the ties as important in its foreign policy. ''Our high-level exchanges and interactions have maintained momentum. Our economic engagement is growing. We are also seeing cooperation on many international issues,'' he said.

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