Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks tomorrow with Belarus President A G Lukashenko to bring new momentum in bilateral engagement, particularly in areas of defence, trade and investment, the external affairs ministry said today. Lukashenko will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his two-day visit beginning today. This is Lukashenko's third state visit to India as the President of Belarus, the last one being a decade ago. His visit comes in a year Belarus and India are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. "The two sides are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation in defence and security, trade and investment, science and technology and people to people exchanges," the MEA said. It said the two sides are also likely to exchange views and assessments on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. G V Srinivas, joint-secretary (Eurasia) with the Ministry of External Affairs, said Lukashenko last met Prime Minister Modi at the sidelines of the 2016 Shangahi Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent. The Belarusian president's visit to India is "timely and over-due", Srinivas said during a media briefing on the visit. Asked whether the talks would include discussions on the Eurasian nation's support for India's bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Srinivas said, "All areas of bilateral interest will be discussed." "Belarus is supportive of the Indian position, both on India's (NSG) application as also in the nature of its United Nations Security Council permanent membership," Srinivas said. Elaborating on the areas of cooperation between the two sides, the joint-secretary said Belarus has expertise in powder metallurgy. "India has an advanced research centre in powder metallurgy in Hyderabad, established with the help of Belarus.
The country (Belarus) had sent equipment and technology," he said. A business forum and parallel meetings organised for members of the large delegation accompanying Lukashenko would explore business opportunities and avenues of cooperation in other areas. According to the MEA, the two-way bilateral trade in 2016 amounted to USD 402 million approximately. The trade balance remains in favour of Belarus primarily on account of imports of potash.
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