Foreign ministry: Reinsalu not to meet Russian counterpart in India

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu.
Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and Russian Federation counterpart Sergei Lavrov will not meet at a high-level geo-political conference in India later this week and no meeting has been requested.

"The foreign minister's program in New Delhi is intense - in addition to a keynote address and attendance at side events - there are six bilateral meetings scheduled - and no meeting with the Russian foreign minister was requested while in India," a foreign ministry spokesman told ERR on Monday. 

The spokesperson also said a meeting would be unsuitable for the two ministers.

Lavrov will be in the Indian capital from Tuesday evening until Wednesday afternoon, with attendance at the Raisina Dialogue conference forming part of wider visit to the region. 

Reinsalu arrives on Wednesday morning and will be engaged in bilateral meetings throughout the morning, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"As we have said before, as a member of the UN Security Council, the Foreign Minister is ready to meet [representatives of] all the permanent members," the spokesman added.

Estonia recently commenced a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Russia is a permanent member.

India is becoming an increasingly important partner for Estonia in terms of both business and security, especially since the country is also seeking membership of the UNSC non-permanent status between 2021 and 2022, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Reinsalu additionally plans to hold a series of bilateral meetings as part of the conference, with confirmed meetings with the foreign ministers of India, Iran, the Maldives, South Africa and Uzbekistan, and the security adviser to Afghanistan, according to ERR.

There is also set to be a joint meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reinsalu's meeting with Iran's foreign minister is reportedly to address bilateral and regional issues. 

"It is definitely in our interest to de-escalate the situation and to keep Iran in the nuclear deal," the ministry spokesperson said, in the aftermath of tensions between the U.S. and Iran following the drone strike killing of a high-ranking Iranian general in Iraq the week before last, retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on two Iraq bases which host U.S. and other coalition personnel (including some from Estonia) and the downing of a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane taking off from Tehran, with the loss of 176 lives.

The Raisina Dialogue is an annual conference in India that focuses on international challenges and could be equated to, for example, the annual Lennart Meri Conference held in Tallinn. 

In addition to Estonia, the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, Australia, Maldives, South Africa, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Denmark, Hungary, Rwanda and Tanzania will also attend the conference.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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