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India-Russia Sign An Air Defense System Deal

Putin said that Russia places a top priority on its India relationship and the two countries had concurrent positions on key global issues.

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Russian S-400 air defense missile systems are on display during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia. VOA

India has signed a deal worth more than $5 billion to buy five sophisticated air defense missile systems from Russia that could trigger sanctions by the United States.

The agreement for the purchase of the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems was sealed Friday in New Delhi as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India and held a summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Although the deal was not mentioned when the two leaders appeared before reporters, a joint statement after the talks said that the two sides welcomed the agreement.

The deal, said analysts, demonstrates that India is seeking a balance as it steadily grows strategic ties with Washington, but is unwilling to forgo its long-standing defense partnership with Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, VOA

Washington has warned that the purchase of the air defense system would be a “significant transaction” violating a U.S. law passed last year under which countries trading with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors face the threat of sanctions.

New Delhi, which does not want to jeopardize its growing ties with Washington, is optimistic about avoiding U.S. sanctions.

In talks with U.S. officials, India has stressed its need for the air defense system to strengthen its capabilities against the might of China, whose ambitions are moving New Delhi and Washington closer.

“If the U.S. thinks India is an important partner in the Indo Pacific, they will find a way out,” said political analyst Manoj Joshi at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, pointing out that India is not bound to follow U.S. law.

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Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, wikimedia commons

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, Jinnie Lee, said that the law is “not intended to impose damage to the military capabilities of our allies or partners.” She did not comment on the deal, but said that any waivers would be considered on a transaction by transaction basis.

U.S. officials have said there is no guarantee of a waiver from the Trump administration, which has imposed sanctions on China’s military for the purchase of the same system. The deal figured in discussions in New Delhi when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited India last month.

Indian Air Force Chief B.S. Dhanoa has said that the S-400 system would be a “booster shot” for the Indian air force. The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range, surface-to-air missile system and can take down enemy aircraft from the ground.

India is the world’s largest purchaser of arms and Russia its biggest supplier. In recent years, the U.S. has also become a significant source, with purchases adding up to $15 billion over the past decade.

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Mr. Narendra Modi

Political analyst Joshi said the deal would help restore ties between India and Moscow on an even keel — relations between the Cold War allies had cooled somewhat in recent years as New Delhi’s ties with Washington blossomed. The contract for the air defense system is one of the largest handed out by India.

After the summit, Modi spoke of a “trusted” and “special and privileged partnership” with Moscow as he addressed reporters along with Putin.

“Russia has stood by India through time and has played a crucial role in India’s growth story,” he said.

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Putin said that Russia places a top priority on its India relationship and the two countries had concurrent positions on key global issues.

Eight agreements signed by the two countries include pacts for Moscow to build six nuclear power plants in India and cooperate with the Indian space agency in sending a manned mission to space. (VOA)

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Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

Prince Mohammad said the relations between two countries were "older than history" and these were "in blood".

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the signing of agreements between India and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 03, 2016. Wikipedia

Against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said there was a need to exert “all possible pressure” on countries which extend any kind of support to terror activities as they agreed for biennial summit meetings and formation of the Strategic Partnership Council.

However, at the joint interaction with the media after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, there was no reference to Pakistan by either leader.

The Prince had just made a two-day visit to Pakistan that ended on Tuesday.

Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity.

“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said.

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Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity. VOA

He said it was extremely necessary to destroy terror infrastructure and to punish terrorists and their supporters.

Modi said there was need for an action plan to deal with extremism so that the youths were not misguided by forces linked to terror and violence.

“I am happy that Saudi Arabia and India have common thoughts on this,” he said.

Prince Salman, in his remarks, said that extremism and terrorism were common concerns of the two countries and Saudi Arabia will fully cooperate with India.

“As far as the issue of extremism and terrorism, these are our common concerns. We want to tell India that we are ready to cooperate with you in every way, whether it is intelligence sharing.. Not only India but we will work with all the countries in the neighbourhood so that the future of the coming generations is secured,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said India offers investment opportunities of over $100 billon and his country will work to make investments beneficial for both countries.

He said the relations between two countries were “older than history” and these were “in blood”.

Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century.

“It is in our extended neighbourhood, is a close friend and an important source of India’s energy needs. I am happy that in accordance with your suggestion, we have agreed for biennial summit meetings and Strategic Partnership Council. This will strengthen our ties,” he said.

 

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“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said. Wikimedia

Modi said the two leaders discussed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and decided to take it to new heights. “We agreed to create a structure to facilitate institutional investment from Saudi Arabia. I welcome Saudi Arabia’s investment in infrastructure.”

He said time has come to turn energy relations to a strategic partnership and noted that Saudi Arabia’s participation in world’s largest refinery and strategic petroleum reserve will take their energy relationship beyond that of buyer and seller.

Modi said that the two countries have a common interest in ensuring peace and stability in West Asia and the Gulf.

“Today in our talks, there was agreement on accelerating mutual cooperation and partnership in this area,” he said.

The two countries also agreed that strong relations in counter-terrorism, ocean and cyber security will be mutually beneficial, he said.

He said the two countries have also decided to increase and expand their defence cooperation in the context of their strategic environment.

Modi said that e-visa facility for Saudi nationals is being expanded to boost trade and tourism and thanked Prince Salman for the increase in Haj quota for Indians.

He welcomed Saudi Arabia’s participation in International Solar Alliance.

“Peaceful use of nuclear energy, specially for water desalination and health will be another aspect of our cooperation,” he said.

 

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Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century. Pixabay

He said presence of 2.7 million Indians in Saudi Arabia is an important link in bilateral ties. “You have always kept their welfare in mind and for this, their gratitude and good wishes are with you,” Modi said.

Earlier, the Crown Prince, who is on his first state visit to India, received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

 

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He told the media that the ties between India and the Arabian Peninsula “is in our DNA”.

“With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” he said.

Prince Mohammed arrived in the capital on Tuesday for a two-day visit and was received by Modi at the Palam airport. (IANS)