India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will be reaching Moscow on Tuesday evening. As the border with China witnessed its first ever exchange of gunfire on Monday, the minister’s visit holds extreme importance for India.
Jaishankar’s visit comes a few days after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe held a two-hour long meeting in Moscow, which did not yield any impactful result. Jaishankar will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said Roman Babushkin, deputy chief of the Russian mission to India.
Here are top issues that will dominate Jaishankar's first foreign visit since the pandemic outbreak in March.
Meeting with Chinese Counterpart
Jaishankar will be meeting his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to discuss the disengagement along the Line of Actual Control. India will be insisting that China observe agreed-upon bilateral agreements and protocols for peace along the border.
Answering a question on what he will tell the Chinese Foreign Minister when they meet, at an event on Monday, Jaishankar said: “If you look at the (past) 30 years, relations progressed because of peace and tranquillity along the border."
The situation along the border turned tense on Monday night when the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) accused Indian troops of firing shots at PLA border patrols in the God Pao mountain area of Pangong Tso. However, India on Tuesday dismissed these allegations and said its troops hadn't resorted to any aggressive actions.
Talks on Sputnik V
India is becoming the pandemic's second worst-hit country, with coronavirus infections at 4,280,422; the government is already in talks with Russia on the Sputnik V vaccine.
India’s defence minister had also expressed confidence in the efficacy of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine during his Moscow visit. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar will be undertaking a meeting on the vaccine to discuss its manufacturing and price in India.
Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIf) head Kirill Dmitriev revealed on Monday that phase 3 of clinical trials for the Sputnik V Vaccine will begin this month in India, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Brazil.
Surprise Visit to Iran
After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a surprise halt in Iran during his return from Moscow, Jaishankar will also be visiting the country. During the Iran stopover, he could meet his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, the details of which are still being decided.
Russia and India are likely to hold talks over the US's attempt to revise sanctions on Iran, the ministry sources have revealed.
The visits from Indian ministers to Tehran have also come amid the backdrop of $400 billion in Chinese investment in the country, while threat of US sanctions continue to hover over Indian projects in Iran.