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Russia’s Lavrov Discusses Security, Trade With Indian Counterpart

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives to attend G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, at the airport in New Delhi, India, February 28, 2023. India’s Ministry of External Affairs/Handout via REUTERS

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Wednesday, a day before attending the G20 foreign ministers meeting, Indian and Russian officials said.

The two ministers assessed the current security situation in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and ironed out issues on the use of local currencies for settling trade during their hour-long meeting, said a senior Russian official.

Lavrov also met the Turkish foreign minister and is scheduled to meet Chinese, Bangladeshi and South African counterparts later on Wednesday, the official added.

“We will urge our constructive colleagues in the G20 to convert to national currencies, to align clearing and settlement mechanisms, and to create independent insurance plans and transport routes,” the Russian embassy in New Delhi said in a statement ahead of the meetings.

“We will describe in detail Russia’s actions to reduce these threats and diversify foreign economic ties and logistics corridors.”

India has refused to blame Moscow for the Ukraine invasion, while seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

A Russian foreign ministry official said Lavrov was aiming to meet at least seven foreign ministers on Wednesday before the dinner hosted for all representatives from 40 countries.

“The G20 meeting has given Russia the opportunity to engage directly with many countries who wish and choose to continue trade with Russia,” the official said, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The G20 includes the wealthy G7 nations as well as Russia, China, India, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.

India has also invited nine other countries as special guests.

Ministers from Britain, the Netherlands and Malta and the EU’s top foreign policy adviser told reporters in New Delhi that the success of the G20 meeting would be measured by what it achieves on the Russian war in Ukraine.

India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra, the top diplomat, said the conflict’s impact on food, energy and fertiliser security will also be discussed.

“It would not be correct to prejudge the outcome of the meeting,” he said.

Former Indian diplomats and security experts said New Delhi was trying to ensure that the G20 meeting is not derailed.

“India’s position on the Ukraine conflict is well known to all concerned sides and privately understood, if not appreciated, by them,” said Pankaj Saran, a former deputy national security adviser.