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Russia, India, China Set For Talks In New Delhi On Security, Trade, Afghanistan


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at the 2015 RIC meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in New Delhi on December 11 to meet with his Indian and Chinese counterparts, with talks expected to focus on security and trade issues in the region and elsewhere.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on December 10 said the 15th meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) group will likely include discussions on Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Korean Peninsula.

Talks could also address the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking and efforts to smooth the flow of information on international security.

Ahead of the trilateral meeting, Lavrov held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and will also meet separately with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Lavrov and Swaraj were expected to discuss progress in the development of the 7,200-kilometer International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that links India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia with Europe.

The corridor would pass through Azerbaijan and Russia en route to northwestern Europe.

On December 3, Iran officially opened an extension of its southeastern port of Chabahar, which Tehran hopes will become a key transit hub for landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Chabahar access is seen as strategically important to India in its quest for an alternate route to access Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing bitter rival Pakistan.

Analysts say the Chabahar port could challenge Pakistan's Gwadar port, some 80 kilometers from Chabahar, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

India media are reporting that the three foreign ministers will issue a joint communique at the end of their daylong talks.

The RIC session was originally scheduled for April, but China did not confirm Wang’s attendance, taken by some as a sign of Beijing’s displeasure over a visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India.

China stakes claim over much of the Indian state and refers to it as South Tibet. Its troops occupied it temporarily during the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

Officials have indicated that the RIC meeting could be followed near the end of December by bilateral talks between India and China over the border dispute.

With reporting by Livemint, The Statesman, TASS, and Interfax
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