New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) With India and Belarus celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year, both countries on Tuesday agreed to further elevate their partnership.
“We reviewed the architecture of India-Belarus partnership and exchanged ideas to expand it,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a joint address to the media with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko following delegation-level talks here.
“We exchanged views on bilateral, regional and global issues,” Modi said.
He said that both sides considered new areas of cooperation and agreed to elevate the partnership.
“We will work to diversify economic linkages. The focus will be to build upon the natural complementaries between us.”
The Prime Minister said that the bilateral relationship should evolve from a buyer-seller partnership to deeper engagement.
“There are abundant business and investment opportunities in pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, heavy machinery and equipment,” he stated.
Modi said that last year Indian companies made a positive beginning with three joint ventures in pharmaceuticals.
“Possibilities for partnership also exist in manufacturing of tyres, agro-industrial machinery and mining equipment,” he said.
“Similarly in heavy duty construction machinery, India has a growing demand and Belarus has industrial strengths.”
He said the two countries will encourage joint development and manufacturing in the defence sector under the Make in India programme.
Modi said that discussions also covered utilisation of the $100 million line of credit that India had offered to Belarus in 2015.
“India is linked with Belarus through multilateral economic initiatives such as the Eurasin Economic Union (EEU) and the International North-South Corridor,” he said, adding that India was negotiating a free trade agreement with the EEU.
“Science and technology is another area of focus for stronger cooperation.”
Modi said innovation and commercialisation would be given due emphasis in fields like metallurgy and nano materials, biological and medical science and chemical and engineering sciences.
He also said that both sides were exploring the setting up of a technology demonstration centre in India to showcase Belarusian technology.
Stating that Belarusians take active interest in Indian culture, cuisine, films, music, dance, yoga and ayurveda, he said: “I see great potential to enhance our tourism and people-to-people exchanges so as to build an even stronger foundation for our relations.”
On his part, Lukashenko said that he was interested in India’s growth so that the world can become more multi-polar.
Stating that the two countries signed an investment protection agreement on Tuesday, he said that Belarus was interested in participating in key Indian development initiatives like Smart Cities and Skill India.
“We will also cooperate in international and regional levels,” Lukashenko said.
Following the talks, the two countries signed 10 agreements, including in the areas of oil and gas, vocational education, cooperation in agriculture, scientific and technical cooperation and sports.
Earlier in the day, Lukashenko was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on the visiting dignitary.
Lukashenko arrived here on Monday on a two-day visit to India. This is his third official visit after 1997 and 2007.