Putin hosts Modi at start of Far East economic forum

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit the shipbuilding plant “Zvezda” outside Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 4, 2019. (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)
Updated 04 September 2019

Putin hosts Modi at start of Far East economic forum

  • Russia has hosted the meeting in its Pacific coast city of Vladivostok since 2015
  • Putin and Modi toured a naval shipyard after the Indian leader arrived for Russia’s three-day Eastern Economic Forum

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks on investment and trade Wednesday, as the Kremlin chief played host to Asian leaders in the country’s Far East.
Putin and Modi toured a naval shipyard after the Indian leader arrived for Russia’s three-day Eastern Economic Forum.
Russia has hosted the meeting in its Pacific coast city of Vladivostok since 2015 to boost partnerships with Asian countries amid tensions with the West.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also to attend, along with Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga and Malyasian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
But Putin was spending most of his time on Wednesday with Modi, who highlighted his close ties with the Russian leader in an interview ahead of the forum.
“Our relationship has special chemistry, special ease,” Modi told newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
“With each meeting with president Putin, we get closer and our relationship grows.”
Modi pointed out that mutual ties also extend to nature, as every year “Siberian cranes migrate to my home state Gujarat.” The Indian leader said he also planned to discuss tiger conservation with Putin, a lover of big cats.
After shaking hands warmly on Modi’s arrival, the two men boarded a Russian navy patrol ship and headed to the Zvezda shipyard about 40 kilometers (25 miles) across a bay from Vladivostok.
India is a key client for Russia’s arms industry and Moscow will be looking to make progress on new deals during the talks.
Ahead of the visit, Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said “increasing mutual investments” and “energy cooperation” would be high on the agenda.
Trade between the two countries amounted to approximately $11 billion in 2018.
Moscow and Delhi are also looking at “opportunities to explore hydrocarbons on the continental shelf in the Arctic and the Russian Far East” together, Ushakov said.
Russia and India in 2015 signed a $1 billion agreement to jointly make Kamov Ka-226 military helicopters, part of the “Make in India” initiative to encourage foreign companies to manufacture their products there. But the deal has been pushed back repeatedly.
A major global arms importer looking to modernize its armed forces, India is keen to produce more on its own soil, and in March launched a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 assault rifles.
Rostec, the umbrella corporation that controls Kamov, is “hopeful” that the summit can kickstart the helicopter project, its director for international cooperation, Viktor Kladov, said last week.
“A major push will be made, definitely,” he said. “All technical and commercial talks are finished,” Kladov said.
India last year purchased the Russian S-400 advanced air defense systems for over $5 billion, with deliveries to be made by 2023, defying US warnings of sanctions on countries buying Russian arms.


Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

Updated 10 min 59 sec ago

Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

  • The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation
  • Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, suffering from “unbearable pain” in his spine after a motorcycle accident, is cutting short a trip to Japan, his spokesman said Tuesday.
The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation following his disclosure earlier this month that he is suffering from a disease that causes one of his eyelids to droop.
A statement from the leader’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would leave Japan sooner than planned, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito with the aid of a cane.
“The palace announces that the president will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone,” Panelo said.
Duterte later described his predicament in a short video clip posted on Facebook by Senator Christopher Go, a former chief aide who accompanied him on the trip.
“If you ride motorbikes you will experience a crash once or twice in your life. All those who are into motorbikes, they crash like I did,” he said, grimacing and moaning while sat in the back of a car beside Go.
“I can’t bear it, it’s around my belt area (waistline), about three inches. It’s really painful,” added the president, who Go said was on his way back to the Philippines.
Panelo said the pain was “a consequence” of the motorcycle accident that the presidency said Duterte had suffered on the palace grounds.
The leader fell off his vehicle just 10 days after he publicly revealed that he has myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle weakness and can result in drooping of eyelids, blurred vision as well as weakness in a person’s extremities.
Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016, with Duterte at times skipping events and meetings or discussing his various ailments in long and rambling speeches.
He has previously said he used to take fentanyl, a potent opioid painkiller, because of a spinal injury caused by other motorcycle accidents when he was younger.
According to Duterte, his doctor made him stop using fentanyl on learning he was “abusing the drug” by using more than the prescribed patches.
Duterte has also said he suffers from migraines and other illnesses including Buerger’s disease, which is characterised by inflammation of blood vessels, usually due to smoking.
Duterte will see his neurologist Wednesday after flying back to Manila late Tuesday, while his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio will represent him at the emperor’s banquet late Tuesday, Panelo said.
The Filipino leader attended Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony earlier Tuesday using a cane to help him walk, he added.
Senator Go also released a photo of the president sitting down with his forehead propped up by a cane.
The Philippine constitution requires the handover of power to the vice president if the leader dies or is incapacitated.
However Panelo said Tuesday “the public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about as regards the physical health and condition of the president.”