President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, friends,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to Russia, this time to St Petersburg. I am happy that we are meeting in this city. As far as I know, you have not been to St Petersburg before. I hope you will have time to tour the city and its landmarks, including the Hermitage and the collection of oriental manuscripts at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Mr Prime Minister, this year we will mark a significant date, 70 years of our diplomatic relations. There were great many events and many things have changed in that period, but the main thing that has remained unchanged in our bilateral relations is a special, trust-based friendly relationship between our nations.
I am happy to have this opportunity to meet with you to discuss the entire range of our bilateral relations and also international issues.
Regarding our cooperation on the international stage, I would like to single out that next week we will formalise India’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member. The process began in 2015 in Ufa, Russia. As you know, Russia has always supported and provided all-round backing to this process. Hence, we will meet again very soon, in a week, in Kazakhstan.
Welcome to St Petersburg and Russia.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency, thank you for a warm welcome.
I am truly glad to have this opportunity to meet with you in your hometown and to visit your city as a prime minister.
India and Russia enjoy trusted relations that go back in history. Our two countries have always stood side by side on all international issues. Soon, India will become a full member of the SCO thanks to your active support. Let me express my gratitude once again for the backing you provided to India so it would become a full member of the SCO.
We can see that in international relations there may be a decline and there may be progress. We see changes. But based on our history, we see that for a prolonged period, our relations have been stable, with no setbacks. We have been moving forward together step by step. I am not only talking about our bilateral relations but about our contacts on the international agenda, the work for the benefit of the entire world.
This morning, I visited the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. The people of Leningrad sacrificed their lives to defend their city and their Motherland. I had a chance to honour their memory and lay a wreath. The people of Russia and the people of Leningrad gave their lives to make Russia the remarkable country it is today.
I saw the graves of all those who sacrificed their lives. I saw the grave of your older brother and learned about your family history, which was also related to the siege of Leningrad and the defence of Leningrad. I think it is very important that ordinary people and politicians are involved in defending their country.
Thank you again for such a warm welcome, particularly for the invitation to the St Petersburg forum, which I will attend tomorrow.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Thank you especially for visiting the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery. Such places have special significance for the Russian nation.