Meeting with Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Ambassador India to Belarus Manoj Kumar Bharti

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Belarus and India will implement all top-level agreements, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Belarus Manoj Kumar Bharti whose diplomatic mission in Minsk is expired. The meeting took place on 7 September.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked Nirmala Sitharaman for the visit and stressed: “This is a very important meeting after the top-level negotiations with the President of India who visited Belarus in June 2015.” The head of state remarked that during his recent visit to China he met with the President of Pakistan. “We have spoken a lot about India, about the efforts of India to normalize relations with this country in all areas,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko praised the level of relations with India, in particular, the results of top-level negotiations with the Indian head of state. “The talks were a success, we agreed on many issues. I think that your visit will help implement those agreements,” he said. The President also stressed that Belarus does not have closed topics in cooperation with India. “Nothing hampers our all-round cooperation,” he added.

“Trade and economy are the foundation of any relations. Trade and economic ties are the basis of our relations, and the vigorous cooperation between key ministries of Belarus and India will have an impact on all-round bilateral relations,“ the head of state emphasized.

According to the Belarusian head of state, during the visit to Minsk Nirmala Sitharaman will learn about the potential of cooperation with Belarus in various fields. “If you are interested in something, we are ready to cooperate with you in any field,” the President said.

He emphasized that India has been a friendly country for Belarus since Soviet times, and the relations which have been developing for decades are increasingly vibrant today.

Nirmala Sitharaman, in turn, thanked the Belarus President for the kind words addressed to her country and for the hospitality extended to the President of India during his visit to Minsk in June this year. "This visit will be remembered for a long time," she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman recalled that during the highest-level visit India allocated a credit line worth $100 million. "We hope that we can find projects in the areas of common interest which will be implemented with the use of this credit," said Nirmala Sitharaman.

India considers cooperation with Belarus in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as promising, Nirmala Sitharaman said.

She stressed that Belarus is a great friendly country, with which India has had good relations for a very long time. "Being part of the Soviet Union, Belarus actively cooperated with India. We appreciate the ties with the countries of the region,” she noted.

The meeting focused on the trade and economic relations. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the existing level of Belarus-India trade is insufficient and deems it necessary to raise the trade turnover. Last year the Belarusian-Indian trade turnover made up slightly more than $400 million, in H1 2015 it exceeded $300 million. Although the trade volume is on the rise, the two sides believe that there is a good potential to boosting bilateral trade. Therefore, the meeting focused on the concrete vectors of advancing cooperation between the countries, including in the manufacturing sector, mechanical engineering, pharmaceutics, potash mining, IT and education.

In particular, the Belarusian side is mulling over the possibility to set up a large industrial center in India for the production, sale and maintenance of equipment. Partaking in the project will be BelAZ, MTZ, MAZ and other big Belarusian enterprises which products will be sold in India. The Indian side is interested in this idea and is ready to do its utmost to implement the project.

The Belarusian President encouraged Indian pharmaceutical companies to enhance their presence on the Belarusian market and use an opportunity to sell their goods in the EEU member states.

The sides also discussed cooperation in potash mining. Nirmala Sitharaman said that Indian companies are ready to buy potash fertilizers and invest in the Belarusian potash industry.

The Indian side is also interested in raising the number of Indian students in Belarusian universities. In this respect, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus will welcome all those who are willing to get education here.

Apart from that, the Belarusian President thanked Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Belarus Manoj Kumar Bharti whose diplomatic mission in Belarus is expired. The head of state stressed that the diplomat has done a lot to bolster Belarus-India cooperation.