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India’s Rare Earths Diplomacy

From an interesting article by Daniel McGroarty on RealClearWorld, it appears that India and China are once again at loggerheads over resources – this time the rare earth metals that India desperately needs as inputs in its growing defence industry. Russia, of course, is only too happy to step in.

Some summits begin with a traditional dance and a gift of flowers; for the Russia summit, the Indians prepared a more substantive bouquet. Just three days before Putin’s arrival, Modi’s government announced that it would oppose the sanctions levied against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea and the destabilization campaign in Ukraine. Putin, in the words of one summit news story, “thanked India for its understanding.”

Call it an exercise in resource-politik: With India granting Putin a free hand in Ukraine – and perhaps by extension, other nations of the former Soviet Union – Russia reciprocated with a basket of technical and economic support for Indian development projects in the oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy sectors. And on a subject critical to India’s defense technology development, the summit joint statement included this agreement:

“Given the strategic importance of rare earth minerals and their economic and commercial utility, the sides will enhance cooperation in rare earth minerals’ mining, technology development and research. They will explore joint development of technologies for processing rare earth materials.”

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