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Russia Pressures India to Support Chinese Trade Project

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, center, holds hands with her Chinese and Russian counterparts Wang Yi, right and Sergey Lavrov after a press statement at the end of their meeting in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.
Russia Pressures India to Support Chinese Trade Project
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Russia is pressuring India to support China’s plan to build trade and transport links across Asia and in other areas.

On Monday, Russian officials suggested that India find a way to work with China on the Belt and Road project, even if the two sides have political differences.

India is strongly opposed to an economic corridor that China is building in Pakistan as part of the project because it travels through Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan have territorial claims to the area.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum the China National Convention Center in Beijing Sunday, May 14, 2017.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum the China National Convention Center in Beijing Sunday, May 14, 2017.

India was the only regional country that did not send representatives to China for a meeting in May. Chinese President Xi Jinping used the gathering to promote the Belt and Road project. Under the plans, crews are building railway lines, ports and electric power grids. The work is expected to cost many billions of dollars.

Earlier this week, the foreign ministers of China, India and Russia met in New Delhi. They talked about India’s concerns about the project.

After the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to reporters. Lavrov said he told Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj that India should not let political disagreements stop it from joining -- and benefiting from -- the project.

“I know India has problems … with the concept of One Belt and One Road. But the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,” he said.

Lavrov noted that Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations have agreed to support the project. He says it will increase economic cooperation in the region.

“Those are the facts,” he said. “India, I am 100 percent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow (it) to benefit from this process.”

Russia was an ally of India during the Cold War with the United States and western countries.

Fifteen years ago, Russia, India and China formed an alliance to challenge American influence on world affairs. But the three countries do not agree on everything. For example, India and China have had disagreements over border issues for many years. These disputes have stopped the three nations from fully cooperating.

Also, India has grown closer to the United States in recent years. It has spent billions of dollars on American military weapons and equipment. Until recently, the Indian military mostly used weapons made at the time of the Soviet Union.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Sanjeev Miglani reported this story from New Delhi for the Reuters news agency. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

corridor n. a passageway or path

regional adj. of or related to an area

promote – v. to support; to help bring into existence

grid – n. a system of evenly spaced lines; a system of electrical wires and equipment that supplies electricity to a large area

benefit – v. to be useful or profitable to

concept – n. an idea

resolve – v. to deal with successfully

challenge – n. a problem; the act of testing one’s ability