“I know that today’s age is not of war," Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan on Friday, 16 September.
This assumes significance as it is the first meeting between Modi and Putin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"The two leaders had productive discussions on a wide range of subjects aimed at further strengthening India-Russia ties," the Prime Minister's Office tweeted.
During their conversation, Modi said, "I know about your position on the conflict in Ukraine and also about your concerns."
"We want all of this to end as soon as possible. We will keep you abreast of what is happening there," the Prime Minister added.
He further thanked the Russian President and said:
“I would like to express my gratitude to both Russia and Ukraine, because during the initial days of the war, 1000s of Indian students were stuck in Ukraine. With the help of both the countries, we were able to bring them back to their homes.”
He also said that the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic had caused disruptions in the global supply chain.
"The world is overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Several disruptions occurred in the global supply chain because of COVID-19 and the Ukraine crisis. We want to transform India into a manufacturing hub," Modi said.
Further, the PM said that his government was focusing on a people-centric development model and promoting innovation in every sector.
"Today there are more than 70,000 start-ups and over 100 unicorns in our country," he added.
Modi Hails India's Economic Growth
The PM also hailed India's economic progress, saying that the country was the fastest-growing economy among the world's largest economies.
"India's economy is expected to grow at the rate of 7.5 percent this year. I'm glad that ours is one of the fastest growing economies among the largest economies of the world," he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his best wishes to India on taking over as the chair of the SCO next year, and said that Beijing would support New Delhi in organising the summit in 2023.
PM Modi had arrived in Samarkand on Thursday, 15 September, to attend the 22nd meeting of the SCO summit, which is deliberating on regional security challenges, trade, and energy supplies, among other issues.
On Friday, 16 September, Modi was welcomed by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. All the participants also posed for a photograph ahead of the summit.
The SCO, headquartered in Beijing, is an economic and security bloc with eight members – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan.
Modi, whose visit is expected to be short and low-profile, was the last of the leaders to arrive in Samarkand, and missed the pre-summit dinner hosted by Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the tree-planting ceremony.
China's president Xi Jinping, who met with Putin shortly before the summit, was the only other leader to skip the events. Jinping said that China was willing to work with Russia to "support each other's core interests."
What's on the Agenda?
Before leaving for Samarkand, PM Modi had said he was looking forward to exchanging views on the topical regional and international issues, as well as on the expansion and further deepening of the multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the grouping.
He also said he was looking forward to meeting Mirziyoyev.
"Under the Uzbek chairship, a number of decisions for mutual cooperation are likely to be adopted in areas of trade, economy, culture and tourism," he said.
Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov had said on Tuesday, according to Russian news agency TASS, said, "A conversation on the international agenda with Modi will also take place, the sides will discuss issues of strategic stability, the situation in the Asia Pacific Region, and, of course, cooperation within major multilateral formats, such as the UN, the G20, and the SCO."
"This is particularly important, because India will preside in the UN Security Council in December, and in 2023, India will lead the SCO, and will also chair the G20," Ushakov added.
(With inputs from TASS and ANI.)