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India confirms bid to join Russia-led bloc

Leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union pose for a group photo at a different event.

India has confirmed that it will sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) -- a Russia-led bloc which is attracting more emerging powers.  

The TASS news agency quoted a senior diplomat at the Indian embassy in Russia as saying that New Delhi would be “definitely signing this agreement".

Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are members of the union which started operation on January 1 with the aim of regional economic integration.

China, Vietnam, Iran, Egypt and Israel have also indicated their interest in joining the EEU free trade zone which aims to guarantee free transit of goods, services, capital and workers among members.

Last month, the union gave the initial go-ahead to signing a free trade agreement with Iran, a senior official of the bloc said.

Russian representative on the Eurasian Economic Commission board Andrey Slepnev said the proposal was approved by all members of the panel during an expert-level meeting held in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

He also said discussions with China to join the union would begin soon, the Xinhua news agency said.

At its current capacity, the bloc has a combined population of 170 million people and a gross domestic product of $2.7 trillion and is being tipped as a major economic force to challenge the might of the European Union and the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also called for a regional currency union, saying it would make "easier to react to external financial and economic threats and protect our joint market".

The Russian ruble has lost around 40% of its value under falling oil prices and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over the Ukraine crisis.




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