Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko will visit India later this month at the invitation of the new government External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Samachar News Agency reported today.
Gromyko, expected to arrive here April 25, will be the first foreign minister of a major world power to make an official visit here since a general election last month in which the Janata (People's) Party swept to power after 30 years of Congress Party rule.
Vajpayee extended the invitation to Gromyko during a meeting with the Soviet ambassador, Viktor Maltsev here last week with assurances that his government would work for further strengthening of relations between the two counties.
India and the Soviet Union developed a specail relationship under former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's rule and signed a treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation in August, 1971. India also relies heavily on the Soviet Union for military hardware and the two nations are major trading partners.
But India's new Prime Minister Morargi Desai appeared to indicate that there would be a shift in this relationship when he said that if India's treaty with the Soviet Union came in the way of friendship with other countries, it would have to be changed.
Desai told his first news conference that India would follow a policy of genuine nonalignment with no close links with any of the major powers.
Desai's home minister, Charan Singh, told India's Parliament today that at least 41 of more then 34,630 persons jailed under Grandhi's emergency decree died in prison.
India's lower house approved legislation today removing curbs on the press. The bill was supported by Gandhi's Congress Party.
Information Minister L. K. Advani told the lower house that it was not for the government to impose a code on the press.
In an interview with the independent English-language Statesman newspaper, Gandhi said it was a relief to feel that the "bigburden is off my shoulders, but I can't say that my life is leff hectic yet."