• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ASIA

Jaishankar raises Indian nationals’ safety in talks with Russian counterpart at SCO meet

The meeting between the two foreign ministers took place days before prime minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to Moscow to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Astana in Kazakhstan on July 3, 2024. (PTI Photo) (IMAGE VIA @DrSJaishankar)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA’S external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday (3) strongly raised the issue of Indian nationals fighting for the Russian Army in the war zone and pressed for their safe return during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Astana in Kazakhstan.

Jaishankar arrived in the central Asian nation’s capital on Tuesday (2) to represent India at the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) bloc.

The meeting between the two foreign ministers took place days before prime minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to Moscow to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Read: PM Modi to visit Russia on July 8, his first since Ukraine war started

While the visit has not been announced officially, it is reported that Modi may visit Moscow next week.

“Good to meet Russian FM Sergey Lavrov in Astana today. Wide-ranging conversation on our bilateral partnership and contemporary issues. Noted the progress in many areas since our last meeting in December 2023,” the Indian foreign minister posted on X.

“Raised our strong concern on Indian nationals who are currently in the war zone. Pressed for their safe and expeditious return,” he added in his post, which also had photos from the meeting.

Read: Putin invites Modi to Russia, tells Jaishankar ‘will be glad to see our friend’

The Russian foreign ministry too did a similar post on X along with photos from the meeting and hashtag #RussiaIndia, “Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister of India Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar hold talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (#SCO) Heads of State Council meeting. Astana, July 3.”

Ever since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, India has been pressing Russia to ensure the safety and repatriation of its nationals employed by the Russian Army and has taken immediate action on receiving information about “Indians in the war zone.”

According to reports, around 200 Indian nationals were recruited as security helpers in the Russian military. By mid-June, it was clear that four Indian nationals had died in the war zone, according to the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

On June 12, India’s outgoing foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said, “Since the first day, we have constantly been discussing this matter with the Russian authorities, the system and the leadership. All of our efforts are aimed at keeping the Indians safe.”

After the death of two Indians was confirmed, the MEA said India had strongly taken up the matter with Russia and sought early release and return of all Indian nationals who were with the Russian Army.

India also demanded that there be a “verified stop to any further recruitment of Indian nationals” by the Russian Army and that such activities would not be in “consonance with our partnership.”

By mid-June, only about 10 Indians working as support staff with the Russian military were released and repatriated to India.

Jaishankar also discussed the global strategic landscape and exchanged assessments and views with Lavrov. Jaishankar also paid homage to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Pushkin Park in the Kazakh capital.

He was joined by members of the Indian community and friends of India.

Earlier on Tuesday (2), Jaishankar met Kazakhstan’s deputy prime minister Murat Nurtleu and discussed expanding Strategic Partnership and India’s increasing engagement with Central Asia in various formats.

(With PTI inputs)

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