The situation in Afghanistan, upcoming India-Russia meetings and bilateral cooperation in security and defence will figure in talks between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on July 9.

Jaishankar is currently on a three-day visit to Russia, during which his discussions with his interlocutors are expected to cover the entire range of bilateral issues, including cooperation in the fight against Covid-19, and various regional and international developments.

The talks with Lavrov will be Jaishankar’s main engagement in Moscow, and the Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday the two sides will compare notes on “major global and regional issues, including the political process in Afghanistan, settlement in Syria [and the] situation around the Iranian nuclear program”.

The two sides will also discuss cooperation at the UN, Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) “in the RIC format”, the Russian foreign ministry said, referring to the Russia-India-China grouping.

In an indication of the differences between India and Russia on the Indo-Pacific concept, the Russian foreign ministry said the discussions are also expected to touch up “approaches to the formation of reliable and indivisible security architecture in the Pacific and Indian oceans”.

Lavrov has been openly critical of the Indo-Pacific concept, which now forms a key part of India’s foreign policy and cooperation under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue format. Last December, Lavrov had said Western powers have adopted an “aggressive and devious” policy to engage India “in anti-China games by promoting Indo-Pacific strategies”.

India has dismissed these concerns by saying the Indo-Pacific is an inclusive concept that can even be joined by Russia.

The Russian foreign ministry noted that interaction with India was “successfully developing in all areas in line with a special and privileged strategic partnership, including political dialogue, security, trade and economic, military-technical, scientific, cultural and humanitarian ties”.

It added that the foreign ministers are expected to discuss “key directions of the Russian-Indian relations, taking into account the previously reached agreements and upcoming contacts, in particular at the highest and high levels”.

The annual India-Russia Summit is slated for later this year, while a meeting of the bilateral inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation will be held in Delhi in August, and a meeting of the inter-governmental commission on military and military-technical cooperation will be held in Moscow in November.

The Russian foreign ministry further said the two countries share a similar vision of a “model of an emerging more fair and equitable polycentric world order”, and “demonstrate the similarity or proximity of positions on the most important issues of peace and security”.

Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow is a follow-up to the trip by Lavrov to New Delhi in April.

Besides holding talks with Lavrov, Jaishankar will also meet deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov, his counterpart for the inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation, and the chairman of the state Duma committee on international affairs, Leonid Slutsky.

Jaishankar will also deliver a speech on “India-Russia ties in a changing world” at the prestigious Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations.