Sushma Swaraj to visit Russia next week

File photo. (Photo: Twitter/@MEAIndia)

Close on the heels of the 2+2 Indo-US ministerial-level dialogue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Russia next week to attend an inter-governmental meeting and prepare the ground for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India later this year for the annual India-Russia summit.

“External Affairs Minister will visit Moscow on 13-14 September to hold the meeting of the 23rd India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Technical and Economic Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) which is co-chaired by her and Yuri Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a press release.

“IRIGC-TEC is a standing body which annually meets and reviews ongoing activities of bilateral cooperation in the fields of bilateral trade and investment, science and technology, culture and other issues of mutual interest,” it stated. The last meeting of the commission was held in New Delhi in December 2017.

Swaraj was scheduled to visit Syria and Lebanon next week as part of a three-nation tour but the tour has now been postponed.

Swaraj’s visit to Russia comes days after the External Affairs Minister along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman jointly hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis at the inaugural India-US 2+2 dialogue.

There were clear differences between the two sides over India’s defence partnership with Russia, particularly the impending S-400 Triumph missile defence system agreement. New Delhi is believed to have firmly conveyed to Washington that it was keen to go ahead with the S-400 deal, notwithstanding the threat of punitive action under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

During her visit to Moscow, Swaraj is also expected to discuss the preparations for President Putin’s visit for the annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The S-400 deal is likely to be signed during Putin’s visit.