Manmohan Singh’s Russian menu: two summits, four bilateral meets

June 16th, 2009 - 11:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Manish Chand
Yekaterinburg, June 16 (IANS) Two back-to-back summits and four bilateral meetings in less than 24 hours could test the nerves of any world leader. But Manmohan Singh, the 76-year-old Indian prime minister, looked fresh and energetic at the end of a long working day.

Manmohan Singh began his day with a round of bilateral talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at Hotel Hyattt Regency Tuesday that focused on deepening India’s economic and energy ties with the Central Asian country. The meeting took place barely hours after a 40-minute meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao Monday that stretched close to midnight.

Manmohan Singh, who was on his first overseas visit since his re-election last month, then went to participate in the summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the Ball Room in the same hotel where he called for greater global cooperation to defeat the spectre of terrorism.

Minutes after the SCO summit, he was locked with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for 40-minute talks that led to the first step towards the de-freezing of ties between India and Pakistan as the two leaders directed their foreign secretaries to meet within a month to address the primary issue of terrorism head on.

And then began hours of intense multilateral diplomacy. The economist-turned-statesman called for a bigger voice for emerging economies in international financial bodies at the end of the first standalone BRIC summit at Atrium Palace.

Showing no sign of fatigue, a smiling Manmohan Singh, dressed in a smart bandgala suit, gathered for a photo-op with the leaders of Russia, Brazil and China at the end of the BRIC summit.

He warmly hugged Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and thanked him for two successful summits. Minutes after the end of the BRIC summit, Manmohan Singh headed for a bilateral meeting with Medevedev.

Manmohan Singh returns to India Wednesday after this three-day visit.

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