MOSCOW: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday reviewed the preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country next week and discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.
Talking to reporters at a joint press conference here, Lavrov said that the preparations for the talks between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and India on creation of a free trade zone have been finished, with all required procedures fulfilled.
"Today, we focused on preparations for Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and participation in the 5th Fifth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok as chief guest," Lavrov said.
The two sides "thoroughly discussed" the visit's agenda and came to the conclusion that they are on the right track, he was quoted as saying by the state-run Tass news agency.
The 5th Eastern Economic Forum will take place in Vladivostok on September 4-6.
"EAEU focuses on the deepening of trade and economic cooperation with New Delhi. As of today, all procedures required for the launch of official talks on concluding a free trade zone agreement between EAEU and India have been completed. The speedy launch of a respective negotiations process will be a milestone of cooperation between India and EAEU," Lavrov said.
The EAEU is a five-nation international organisation comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Russia established in 2015 to create conditions for the stable development of the economies of the member states.
The EAEU region with a population size of over 180 million holds huge potential to increase trade.
Lavrov also said that his talks with Jaishankar also focused on "a number of specific issues, including the necessity to intensify work on creation of an international transport corridor North-South in the Russia-India-Iran format."
The Russian minister said that respective departments would continue meaningful consultations on the subject.
Jaishankar arrived in Moscow on Tuesday on a two-day visit to Russia to finalise the preparations for Prime Minister Modi's visit to the country.
This is his first visit to Moscow since assuming office in May.
"40 years to the day I first came to Moscow. The world has changed but India-Russia relations remain steady," Jaishankar tweeted on Tuesday.
Jaishankar will also meet Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov.
Days ahead of Jaishankar's visit, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval travelled to Moscow and held talks with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev during which both sides underlined support for principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference of third parties.
Delivering a speech at the discussion platform of the Valdai Discussion Club on the issue 'The prospects of India's policy in the Indo-Pacific region' on Tuesday, Jaishankar said that the changing world had thrown up new concepts and approaches and the Indo-Pacific was one of them.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region.
China has been trying to expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific, which is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the sea.