India offers $ 1 billion credit line to Russia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during the joint press statements, at Vladivostok, in Russia, Wednesday, Sept 4, 2019. (PIB/PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday offered a $ 1 billion Line of Credit to Russia to develop its Far-East, underlining New Delhi's keen interest in expanding India's footprint in the resource-rich region.

Modi announced the Line of Credit while speaking at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum at Vladivostok in Far Eastern Federal District of Russia.

“Russia’s Far East deepens the bond between Russia and Asia. India looks forward to boosting cooperation with Russia’s the Far East,” Modi said at the conclave hosted by Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Modi said that while his government in New Delhi had already been pursuing an “Act East” doctrine to expand India's engagement with the Southeast and East Asian nations, it would now launch a new policy— “Act Far East”— to turn Far East of Russia as India's springboard for the markets in Northeast Asia.

Modi, who was the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum this year, said that India's offer of $1 billion Line of Credit for Russia would prove to be the “take-off point” for Act Far East policy of India. He also noted that it would be the first time that New Delhi would extend a credit line for the development of a particular region of another country.

The Far East of Russia is a region between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.

It shares land borders with Mongolia, China and North Korea and maritime borders with Japan and the United States.

India was the first country to open its consulate in Vladivostok in 1992 in view of its geo-strategic and geo-economic significance.

The region is also replete with natural resources like diamond, gold, tungsten, fish and seafood, coal, oil and gas and forest.

“Vladivostok is a confluence of Eurasia and pacific, showcasing opportunities for arctic and northern sea routes,” Modi said on Thursday.

“We (India and Russia) are about to start a new round of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region,” the prime minister said.

“When the ship starts sailing between Vladivostok and Chennai when Vladivostok will become the springboard of India in the market of Northeast Asia, then India-Russia partnership will deepen and flourish, then the far-east and the Eurasian union will form a confluence of open, free and inclusive Indo-Pacific," he said.

Several Indian companies have already invested in the Far East region of Russia, like M/s KGK in Vladivostok in the field of diamond cutting and M/s Tata Power in Krutogorovo in Kamchatka in coal mining.

During the annual bilateral summit between Modi and Putin on Wednesday, Russia welcomed the intent of India to expand its economic and investment presence in the Far Eastern region and Siberia.

Indian and Russian companies concluded around 50 business agreements worth $5 billion at the Eastern Economic Forum.

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