"We share confidence, aspirations and destiny"

India’s growing bonhomie with the United States will not undermine its relations with Russia, said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

Mr. Khurshid, who came here after a visit to the U.S., asserted that New Delhi’s closer ties with Washington would not affect the “deep, vast and strong” bonds linking India and Russia.

Asked by The Hindu to comment on Russian fears that India’s pro-U.S. tilt may affect its ties with Russia, Mr. Khurshid offered a spirited defence of “privileged strategic partnership” between New Delhi and Moscow that embraced “economy, strategic matters, defence and education”.

“There is no reason to think that this [India-Russia] time-tested historic relationship, which we consider intrinsically valuable and wonderful, may be undermined by anything that can happen in the world,” Mr. Khurshid said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

The External Affairs Minister is on a three-day visit to Moscow to prepare an annual summit here later this month between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Vladimir Putin.

“We share confidence in each other, we share aspirations and we share, therefore, a destiny. There is no reason to feel that we may drift apart,” Mr. Khurshid said.

Mr. Lavrov said that in an increasingly globalised world, many countries, including the U.S., had legitimate interests in South Asia, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region. “Countries that come to the region have no ulterior motives… [and] their interests are transparent and have no hidden agenda,” he said.

Mr. Lavrov promised to push for India’s early accession as full member to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Mr. Khurshid confirmed that India was keen to upgrade its status in the SCO, saying that “we should be able to contribute much more with full membership.”