Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that the Indian government will extend a line of credit worth $1 billion (nearly Rs 7,100 crore) to Russia for the development of the country’s Far East region, ANI reported.

“My government has actively engaged East Asia as part of its ‘Act East’ policy,” Modi said at the Eastern Economic Forum summit being held in Vladivostok. “This will also give a new dimension to our economic diplomacy.”

Modi said the relationship between India and East Asia is very old. “India is the first country which opened its consulate in Vladivostok,” he added. “Even during [the times of] Soviet Russia when there were restrictions on other foreigners, Vladivostok was open for Indians.”

Modi said that the government is trying to build a “New India” on the mantra of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. “We are aiming for a $5 trillion economy by 2024,” he said.

The prime minister also appreciated Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vision for the Far East. “India is a proud and active participant in the various activities of the Eastern Economic Forum,” he said.

India is proud of the achievements of the Indian diaspora [in the Far East],” Modi asserted. “I am sure here in the Russian Far East too the Indian diaspora will make an active contribution towards the region’s progress.”

“In Russia, I have always experienced warm hospitality and friendship,” Modi said. “Whenever President Putin and I meet, we do so in a very informal atmosphere. Our discussions are also extensive. India and Russia friendship isn’t restricted to governmental interactions in capital cities. This is about people and close business relations.”

Earlier in the day, Modi had met the prime ministers of Malaysia and Japan at the forum. Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed “deepening multi-faceted ties in economic, defence and security, start-up and 5G areas and exchanged views on regional situation”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Modi also brought up the matter of extradition of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Earlier this month, Malaysia had banned the fugitive preacher from giving speeches in the country.

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