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Russia offers Turkey pie, Delhi cautious

New Delhi, Dec. 21: Russia has pulled India into the middle of its diplomatic joust with Turkey over a downed military plane, offering New Delhi early access to sectors of its economy earlier dominated by Ankara, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

But India is in a bind over the offer that could dramatically boost bilateral trade, stagnating at around $10 billion annually, amid worries that Russia will expect a strong statement from New Delhi criticising Ankara, senior officials have said.

Turkey is Russia’s second-largest trade partner after Germany – their bilateral trade stands at $35 billion – and sends almost 20 per cent of the fresh vegetables Moscow imports each year.

Turkey also hosts over 3 million Russian tourists each year – more than 10 times the 2.6 lakh who visited India in 2014, despite the popularity of Goa among Russian tourists.

But what both Russia and Turkey till recently cited as a model relationship has hit rock bottom after a Turkish jet shot down a Russian Su-24 military plane involved in operations against the Islamic State (IS).

Russia insists that its plane was in Syrian airspace, while Turkey claims the jet was in its territory and had not responded to multiple warnings.

India is keen to avoid getting trapped in the war of words between the twonations, and some experts suggested New Delhi had little to gain economically even if Russia did not expect a quid pro quo for economic access.

“Russia needs to diversify its trade and trading partners, so it makes sense fo



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