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Relations with Russia remains India's top priority: Krishna

MOSCOW (PTI): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said the "time-tested" relationship with Russia will remain India's top foreign policy priority as he held wide-ranging parleys on bilateral and international issues, including Afghanistan, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"We in the government have been insisting that this time-tested relationship has weathered many storms and out of which it has always emerged even stronger," Krishna said and added that relations with Russia will remain a top foreign policy priority.

Krishna was talking to reporters on Wednesday after a 40-minute meeting with Medvedev during which he discussed a wide range of issues.

"A wide range of bilateral and international issues, including Afghanistan, were discussed in the meeting with Medvedev. On all the issues we have similar views," Krishna said.

During his meeting, Krishna recalled the Russian assistance to India in the initial years of independence.

Medvedev said the two countries had cooperated in "joint work against current threats like terrorism, narco-crime and organised crime" as well in battling the effects of the global economic crisis.

Krishna said the intensive exchange of high-level visits including Prime Minister's visit to Yekaterinburg in June and President Pratibha Patil's visit in September "are an answer to sceptics" who question the value of this importance.

Earlier on Wednesday, he had one-to-one and delegation level talks with the Russian Vice-premier Sergei Sobyanin at the 15th session of Indo-Russian Inter-governmental commission co-chaired by them.

"Russia is one country, which can help India in its quest for energy," Krishna said adding that the energy, both conventional and nuclear will be the focus of bilateral economic interaction with Russia along with hi-tech areas like space and IT.

Krishna also had a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with whom he is also scheduled to meet in trilateral Russia-India-China format in Bangalore on October 26.

Kirshna will be in Tashkent on Thursday where he is scheduled to meet with the leaders of this Central Asian nation with deep historic links with India.

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