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‘He Didn’t Make Me Feel Less Significant’: How Modi’s 2001 Meeting With Putin Impacted India-Russia Ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Russia on Wednesday on a two-day visit during which he will hold summit talks with President Vladimir Putin and attend the Eastern Economic Forum.


Updated:September 4, 2019, 6:28 PM IST
‘He Didn’t Make Me Feel Less Significant’: How Modi’s 2001 Meeting With Putin Impacted India-Russia Ties
File photo of PM Narendra Modi.

New Delhi/Vladivostok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Russia, has said that the trip will give “a new direction, new energy and new speed” to relations between the two countries.

Modi arrived in Vladivostok on Wednesday to participate in the 20th India-Russia annual summit and the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).

The first Indian prime minister to visit the Russian Far East Region, Modi will hold bilateral meetings with President Vladimir Putin, participate in the Eastern Economic Forum and meet other world leaders.

“Over the past 20 years, relations between India and Russia have made great progress. But the greatest achievement is trust, which in itself is of very great importance,” Modi said in an interview to Russia's state-run TASS news agency on Tuesday.

Recalling his first meeting with Putin in 2001, he said, “Then (in 2011) I arrived in Moscow with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I was the chief minister of Gujarat and this was our first meeting. But Putin did not at all make it clear that I am less significant, that I am from a small state or that I am a new person. He treated me as friendly as his own. As a result, the doors of friendship were open.”

Modi recalled how he and the Russian president, during their first meet, discussed not only issues relating to the two countries, but also talked about their hobbies and world problems. “We talked openly, like our own people. It is very interesting to talk with him, and I openly admit that conversations with him are very informative.”

“Putin is a very open person. He speaks directly and expects him to speak directly and clearly. Therefore, we communicate without any “but” and “if”. We clearly understand that President Putin thinks so. Therefore, it is very easy for me to express my opinion to him,” Modi said.

Modi added that India and Russia have similar opinions on almost all issues on the international agenda.

“And if they do not coincide, then the difference is small. This also greatly affects our relationship. With each meeting with President Putin, we are getting closer, and our relationship is developing,” he said.

Before departing for Russia, the Prime Minister in his departure statement on Tuesday said he looks forward to discussing regional and international issues of mutual interest with Putin and that his visit “underlines the desire of the two countries to diversity and further strengthen bilateral relations.”

The forum focuses on development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East Region, and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in the region, he said.

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