India hopes Russia will join Indo-Pacific trilateral

NEW DELHI: India’s efforts to rope Russia, a close partner of China, in for the Indo-Pacific initiative, seem to be finding some traction with the 2 countries discussing last week the possibility of a trilateral track 2 with Japan.
India maintains that the Indo-Pacific is a free, open, transparent and inclusive concept with ASEAN at its centre and that it excludes nobody.
The government has, nevertheless, felt it imperative to convince Russia, a key strategic partner, that some of its doubts about the initiative are misplaced.
Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla discussed the proposal for a Russia-India-Japan trilateral mechanism with the Russian deputy foreign minister, Igor Morgulov, on August 4.
While the proposal is only at a conceptual stage, according to authorities here, it will encompass practical aspects of working together for joint investment and development of projects. The proposal first came up during the visit of PM Narendra Modi and his Japan counterpart Shinzo Abe to the Russian Far East last year.
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India is working on connectivity and other projects with Japan in the Indo-Pacific region, including in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and also in Africa. The 2 countries have also held discussions for establishing a Platform for Japan-India Business Cooperation in Asia-Africa Region to further enhance exchanges between Japanese and Indian businesses “toward developing industrial corridors and industrial network in the region”.
Modi last year became the first Indian PM to visit the Russian Far East last year. After the summit with President Vladimir Putin, the Vladivostok joint statement said that India agreed to “intensify consultations on complementarities between integration and development initiatives in greater Eurasian space and in the regions of Indian and Pacific Oceans”.
Moscow though continues to have serious reservations about the concept and even refuses to use the term Indo-Pacific, saying it’s meant to isolate China. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said here in January this year that the exercise was meant to “reconfigure the existing structures in the Asia Pacific region to move from ASEAN centered consensus seeking forms of interaction to something that would be divisive”.
India, however, has emphasised before the Russians that Indo-Pacific is an inclusive concept with ASEAN right at its heart. India believes that Russia joining the initiative can help underline the inclusive nature of the exercise and also boost bilateral cooperation further. Indian ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Verma was recently quoted as saying that India would like Russia to become more involved in the Indo-Pacific.
“India and Russia share common interest..that the Indo-Pacific region becomes a region of peace, stability and economic prosperity, so that no country seeks unilateral advantage at the cost of the entire region,” he said in Moscow.
Watch India expects Russia to join Indo-Pacific initiative with Japan trilateral

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