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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Energy Ties Fuel 3-Way Summit

ReutersLi Zhaoxing, Pranab Mukherjee and Sergei Lavrov gesturing before their economic talks in New Delhi on Wednesday.
NEW DELHI -- The foreign ministers of India, China and Russia met Wednesday for talks on economic ties at a time when the Asian giants are seeking more energy supplies and Moscow is sitting on huge oil and gas reserves.

India's Pranab Mukherjee, Russia's Sergei Lavrov and China's Li Zhaoxing discussed economic, energy and trade issues in New Delhi.

"Just the fact they are meeting and institutionalizing their relations to a greater degree is important," said Alka Acharya, head of East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. "But what is most significant for them is coming together on economic issues -- especially with energy -- and how best to secure their needs."

Few economic deals are expected from the summit, aimed primarily at smoothing the path for future trade deals. "The economies of all three countries are growing fast," Li said at a news conference. "I believe there is great complementarity and potential for tripartite cooperation. ... We discussed how to widen and deepen cooperation in fields like energy, transport, economy and trade."

The summit comes after President Vladimir Putin's high-profile visit to India last month, when Russia signed deals to help India construct nuclear power stations. India is also buying more Russian weapons, such as combat jets. China and India account for most of Russia's annual arms sales of around $6 billion.

In Wednesday's joint statement, the ministers said "trilateral cooperation was not directed against the interests of any other country."

Experts said the three summit countries, each with its own bilateral relations with Washington, were not seeking any strategic, anti-U.S. partnership.

"Of all the three, Russia may have some concept of ganging up on the United States. But this meeting is really not about any strategic partnership between the three," said C. Raja Mohan, strategic affairs editor of the Indian Express newspaper.