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Russian, Indian Leaders Meet Ahead Of Far East Economic Forum


Russia's Vladimir Putin (right) speaks with India's Narendra Modi during a visit to the Zvezda shipyard, as Rosneft chief Igor Sechin (center) looks on, outside Vladivostok on September 4.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss investment and trade in the Russian Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, where both men are attending a three-day economic forum.

The two leaders visited a naval shipyard together after Modi's arrival on September 4 before holding a joint press conference where they talked about cooperation on nuclear plants and in space travel, tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and global stability.

Russian news agencies also said the two vowed in a joint statement to continue legitimate trade and economic cooperation with Iran.

The joint statement also "highlighted the importance of continued peaceful dialogue between all parties concerned aimed at establishing a lasting peace and stability on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and urged all the parties to cooperate to achieve that goal," according to the document as quoted.

Russian news agency TASS quoted Modi as saying, "Both our countries understand that in order to achieve stability, we need a multipolar world," adding, "Our cooperation and coordination on this issue will be the required factors for achieving this world."

Putin said Moscow was ready to further cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is expected to help build at least 12 nuclear power units in the next two decades.

Modi also said astronauts for India's first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, will be trained in Russia.

Each leader invited the other to visit, including a possible trip for Modi to Russia to observe 75th-anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II.

Russia has organized the Eastern Economic Forum to woo Asian investment and cooperation since 2015, when sanctions and other punitive Western economic measures were mounting following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and continued support for separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

This year, attendees include Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Putin is expected to meet with foreign leaders and local officials during the event and oversee work on a 10-year plan for the country's Far East region, according to the venue's website.

Organizers said delegations were also expected from China, South Korea, and Singapore.

"The development of the Russian Far East, strengthening its economic and innovation potential, and raising the living standards of its residents among others, is our key priority and fundamental national goal," Putin announced ahead of the forum.

In addition to promoting development in the region, the event's goal is to "expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region."

Last year, the organizers said 220 agreements were said to have been signed worth more than $46 billion, not counting ones whose terms remained commercial secrets.

At the event, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak told reporters that Russia was ready to hold three-way consultations with the European Union and Ukraine on natural-gas transit later this month.

A large pipeline network through Ukraine delivers gas to Europe.

"We will discuss the date of holding such a meeting with our colleagues in the near future," Novak said. "We confirm that we are ready to hold trilateral consultations. We will contact our colleagues and agree the time once we are back from the trip to Vladivostok."

In a visit to Ulan Bator before the forum, Putin and Mongolian leader Khaltmaagiin Battulga on September 3 signed a permanent treaty on friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership that reportedly builds on an existing 1993 Treaty of Friendly Relations and Cooperation.

While in Vladivostok, Putin is expected to chair a government council in charge of overseeing a national program to develop Russia's Far East for the years 2025-35.

With reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Reuters
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