Signal to Moscow? S Jaishankar on first trip to Georgia after visiting Russia | India News

Signal to Moscow? S Jaishankar on first trip to Georgia after visiting Russia | India News

NEW DELHI: External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday invited Georgian companies to invest in India, as he called on the country’s top leadership, including PM Irakli Garibashvili, during his first visit to the country, which is also seen as a rare message to India’s old partner, Russia.
Jaishankar, who landed in Tbilisi after a three-day visit to Moscow, chose a particularly emotional moment for Georgia and a possibly breakthrough moment for bilateral ties. He handed over a relic of the St. Queen Ketevan to the government at a ceremony.
But the political signalling of the visit is not to be ignored either, given the hostile relations between Georgia and Russia. In April, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, for the first time ever, visited Pakistan after India, introducing a hyphenation to the bilateral relationship that did not go down well in New Delhi.
After a 26-year hunt, the Archaeological Survey of India had in 2016 identified the remains of Queen Ketevan in a destroyed church in Goa. An official statement said the Queen’s remains were found in 2005 at the “St. Augustine Convent in Old Goa, India… They are believed to have been brought to Goa in 1627 and interred in St. Augustine Complex”. Georgia has been asking for the relic to be permanently housed there. After a tour in 2017-2018, India acceded to Georgia’s persistent request to give a part of the relic.
India does not yet have a mission in Tbilisi which is serviced by India’s mission in Yerevan, Armenia. Therefore, Jaishankar’s two-day visit to the country, situated at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, is even more significant.
Jaishankar indicated India was willing to do more in terms of investment in Georgia, which ranks highly in the ease of doing business index. Georgia has also applied for the EU membership, which, if accepted would give India another gateway to Europe, and a foothold in the Caucasus.

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