Russia today pitched for India joining China’s One Belt One Road initiative and hoped that New Delhi will find a way out to benefit from the mega connectivity project without sacrificing its position on the issues flagged by it.
In an address at a think tank, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said a sustainable security architecture in the Asia Pacific region cannot be achieved through “bloc arrangement”, in a clear signal of Moscow’s opposition to the quadrilateral grouping comprising the US, Japan, India and Australia.
Talking about regional issues, the Russian Foreign Minister said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj “suggested” improving not only India-China ties but also India’s relations with Pakistan.
Lavrov, Swaraj and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi today held the 15th Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting during which a range of regional and global issues were discussed.
On OBOR, Lavrov said Russia feels the concept is very interesting and needed to be explored in the context of building harmonious relationship for deeper regional trade and investment.
About India’s opposition to the project, he said, “the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional for resolving political differences”.
India has opposed the OBOR due to its sovereignty concerns over the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). CPEC is part of the OBOR.
Lavrov said almost all the central Asian countries have already signed documents with China for cooperation in the OBOR while Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union concluded economic cooperation agreement with it, indicating that the process is irreversible.
“I am 100 per cent convinced that India has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which will allow it to benefit from this process and at the same time not to sacrifice your position,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.
In a clear reference to the quadrilateral grouping among the US, India, Japan and Australia, he said, “We believe that sustainable security architecture in the Asia Pacific region cannot be achieved through bloc arrangement and is only possible through an open ended collective basis.”
Officials of the four countries held their first meeting in Manila last month to give shape to the much talked about quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific region “free and open”.
The formation of the bloc is seen as an effort to contain China’s growing assertiveness in the resource-rich area.
The Russian Foreign Minister also talked about the need for peaceful settlement of the disputes saying use of force and threatening to use force will not resolve any issue.
Calling India a key partner for Russia, he said further strengthening of ties between the two countries can address numerous problems in the Asia Pacific region.
On tackling terrorism, he called for a “truly universal coalition” to act against the terror groups without “any double standards and hidden agenda”.
Sounding critical of the role of the US in Afghanistan, Lavrov said every stakeholder including the Taliban and the war-ravaged country’s neighbours should be taken on board for brining lasting peace to it.
The Russian Foreign Minister said his country was ready to ensure transfer of technology to manufacture critical military platforms in India in joint venture and co- development projects.