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Modi-Putin summit

Modi-Putin summit
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday arrived in the Russian city Sochi for an informal summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Before taking off for Sochi, Modi tweeted that he hopes the special and privileged partnership between the two countries will further get a boost from his visit and meeting with the Russian President. The two leaders are expected to hold agendaless meetings of four to six hours. During the meetings, there would be limited discussions on bilateral issues and the primary focus of the talks would be global and regional issues. This is Modi's second informal summit after he held one with Chinese President Xi Jingpin last month in Wuhan. Through agendaless informal summits, Modi intends to strike a personal chord with world leaders by holding a heart-to-heart talk on regular as well as vexing issues. In his informal summit with Jingpin, Modi tried to remove the mistrust that was created between the two countries in the wake of Doklam standoff. The two leaders also discussed ways to remove the bottlenecks in improving business ties.
In his talks with the Russian leader, Modi is likely to raise the issue of US withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. About two weeks ago, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the deal. The deal had offered Iran a relief from economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. Apart from the United States, the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran involved Germany, Britain, France, China, and Russia. European allies criticised the US decision and were in talks with Tehran about how to salvage the accord without the US. China and Russia have also pledged to stay in the agreement. India too wants to continue doing business with the country as it imports a large amount of oil from Iran. It has also collaborated with Iran to develop the Chabahar port and allied infrastructure, which will help India transport its goods to Central Asian markets. Throughout the period of economic sanctions, Russia has been a major support for Iran and it enjoys a considerable goodwill with the country. By discussing the issue with Russia, India is getting ready to deal with the circumstances that emerge after the US sanctions come into effect about 90 days from now. Russia is also heavily invested in the Syria conflict where it is pitted against the American forces and the Islamic State militants. Iranian forces are also fighting alongside the Russian soldiers in Syria. In recent times, Russia has been trying to develop a friendly relationship with Pakistan, with the two countries organising joint military drills on some occasions. Russia is also trying to make inroads into Afghanistan by entering into a tacit understanding with the Taliban forces. Some of these policies being pursued by Russia are a matter of concern for India and it would like to make Russian President Putin aware of India's sensitivity and concerns. Russia's support to Pakistan at a time when the country stands isolated for providing support to international terrorist organisations runs contrary to India's stand that Pakistan must stop giving training and weapons to terrorists to carry out subversive activities in other countries, including India and Afghanistan. Russia itself is facing economic sanctions from the US and its European allies since 2014 after its annexation of Crimea and its active support to rebels in Eastern Ukraine. The economic sanctions have directly targetted its oil sector which constitutes 50 per cent of its GDP. In view of the low oil prices in the last few years and the Russian businessmen's inability to invest in the oil sector, the Russian economy is in a bad shape. Though Russia had expected that the President Donald Trump's administration would lift the sanctions, the animosity between the two countries has only increased in the recent past, with both countries resorting to expelling the diplomats. With Russia backing the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and countering the American offensive against the country, there is little hope of any early rapprochement between the two countries. Though India is not directly involved in the Syrian crisis, India is opposed to the rise of Islamic State and other militant organisations internationally. It is also peeved at the civil war going on in Syria, which has forced millions of people to flee the country. India is also concerned at the development emanating from US withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal and reimposing economic sanctions on the country. And, a closer Russia-Pakistan relation is bound to upset the equations in India's immediate neighbourhood. India needs to convey its concerns on these issues to Russia in a comprehensive manner. Clearly, there is a lot to discuss when Modi meets Putin for an informal summit.

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