Yekaterinburg (Russia), May 15: Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee reached the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on Wednesday to attend a trilateral meeting of Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China (RIC).
Mukherjee, who arrived here from United Arab Emirates, will first attend a trilateral ministerial meeting of the RIC and later a quadrilateral meeting involving the countries and Brazil. He was accorded a warm welcome by Russian Foreign Ministry officials and the local governor at the Koltsovo Airport. Mukherjee's talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and also Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will focus on economic relations, globalization and regional security issues.
The RIC meeting in Yekaterinburg will be the fourth stand-alone trilateral minister-level meetings.
These meetings have essentially discussed political and economic issues, issues related to UN reforms, terrorism, and the situation in the region, including Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, DPRK, and the Middle East, besides trilateral economic cooperation.
This is the first high-level visit from the Indian side to Russia after President Dmitry Medvedev assumed office this week. Mukherjee is likely to discuss a host of bilateral issues, including civil nuclear cooperation with Lavrov.
Interactions with Yang Jeichi are likely to focus on the Sino-Indian boundary issue, the anti-China protests by Tibetans, and the devastating earthquake in south west China.
With India and China having been held culpable by Washington for the current global food shortage, the two nations are also expected to take a collective hard stand on the allegation.
The three foreign ministers had met on the sidelines of multilateral meetings in September 2002, September 2003, October 2004 and September 2005.
In the last meeting at Harbin, they decided to form a consultative mechanism at the level of the Head of Department in the Foreign Offices and hold expert level consultations in agriculture, health and disaster management.
Mukherjee, who is on a three-day visit to the city, will also participate in a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of BRIC on May 16 to discuss economic and energy issues.
The BRIC meeting assumes importance in view of the fact that a Goldman Sachs analysis presaged a fundamental shift in the global balance of power, with the four countries together having a greater economic weight than the traditional industrial powers of the Group of Seven by the year 2032, just two decades hence.