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Russia-India partnership 'second to none', says Russian envoy

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Russia's partnership with India is "second to none" and cannot be compared with its relationship with Pakistan, Russian Ambassador Nikolay Kudashev has said.

On a possible quadrilateral involving India, Japan, the US and Australia for deeper cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the envoy said Russia favours a non-bloc open regional architecture with space for all stakeholders.

Kudashev was on Wednesday replying to questions during a media briefing on the recently concluded tri-services exercise between India and Russia.

Asked about Russia's two-week-long military drill with Pakistan last month near the Russian town of Minralney Vody, he said it was part of counter-terror cooperation, insisting there was no comparison between Moscow's ties with India and Pakistan.

"I do not see any opportunity to equalise relations between Russia and India and Russia and Pakistan. Our partnership with India is second to none. It is a special strategic partnership," Kudashev said.

He said Russia has a normal inter-state relationship with Pakistan.

"The purpose of the drill was anti-terror cooperation and to support reasonable elements in the Pakistan government in fighting terror," he said.

On the proposed quadrilateral among India, Japan, the US and Australia with a focus on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, he said there should be "open cooperation" among all countries in the region.

"We would welcome larger non-bloc open regional architectures which will have space for all," Kudashev said.

The US has been pressing for strengthening Indo-US cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said last week that Tokyo favours a dialogue between Japan, the US, India and Australia to further boost strategic partnership.

Asked about China's indication that it may once again block the US, France and UK's bid to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, he evaded a direct reply.

"We are members of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) where there is ample agenda to fight terrorism.... We need to fight common threats of terror, drugs and crime," he said.

On North Korea's nuclear tests, he said Russia is for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The envoy also spoke about the tri-services exercise between India and Russia from October 19 to 29.


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