india-russia ties

Russia a strong, reliable friend of India: PM tells Putin

RUSSIA-INDIA-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) listens to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a signing ceremony following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday | AFP PHOTO

Russia is a strong and reliable friend of India and both countries have a "truly strategic" partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told President Vladimir Putin at the annual summit talks as the two sides negotiated major deals in defence, energy and other key areas.

Modi, who is on a two-day visit here, conveyed to Putin that their summit talks will give a fresh impetus to the bilateral relations as it will provide "new energy" to further strengthen ties.

As part of the 16th annual India-Russia Summit, Modi and Putin held a one-on-one meeting before they were joined by their respective delegations. The two sides continued their deliberations over lunch at the Kremlin.

"India and Russia have a long history of cultural relations. And now we have a strong and reliable friend on the political and international arena - Russia. Russia has always been with us in hard times. We have a strategic partnership, a true strategic partnership," Modi said.

Putin, in his opening remarks during his meeting with Modi, said, "I am pleased to note, and I am happy to do that, that we are consistently and confidently developing the privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia."

The bilateral relations were developing in all directions -- in international politics, economy and the humanitarian area, he was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.

Ways to expand economic cooperation between the two countries were also explored in the meeting with both countries aiming to take the current bilateral annual trade of $10 billion to $30 billion in the next 10 years.

The Prime Minister also mentioned about death of a Russian pilot in downing of a Russian plane on the Syrian border. Modi also expressed condolence over the death of Russian citizens in a plane crash in Egypt in October.

"I would like to express my condolences in connection with the recent developments in Egypt and Turkey, when a Russian pilot and innocent Russian citizens died. This was a great tragedy and the entire people of India were with Russia during these difficult moments," he said.

"Despite the various global problems, despite the confrontation against Russia, you have raised your country, your state to a qualitatively new level. Russia proudly moves along its own development path and I commend you personal leadership in this process," Modi was quoted as saying by Kremlin.

He also mentioned about Atal Bihari Vajpayee under whose prime ministership the tradition of annual summits between the two countries was "born". "These annual summits have raised Indian-Russian relations to a new level."

Putin, on his part, expressed happiness over two countries going ahead "consistently and confidently" in developing the privileged strategic partnership.

"Our relations are developing in all areas: this applies to political matters and the coordination of our efforts on the international arena; it also applies to the economy and humanitarian cooperation," he said.

The Russian President further said: "There are matters that require our special attention, particularly in the current complicated economic situation."

Ways to expand economic cooperation between the two countries were also explored in the meeting with both countries aiming to take the current bilateral annual trade of $10 billion to $30 billion in the next 10 years.

Russia is keen to enhance economic cooperation with India. Putin has been making concerted efforts to push the economic growth which witnessed significant slowdown following Western sanctions after the Ukraine crisis.

To ensure deeper economic engagement, India is pushing for a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone and is sharing with Russia details of a study it conducted in this regard.

The two sides have been working on a number of defence deals and it is understood to have figured in the talks.

There were indications that Russia was ready to ensure transfer of technology for some of the joint ventures in the defence sphere. The deals being talked about include joint manufacture of Kamov-226T helicopters.

Last week, India's Defence Ministry's top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

Russia has been India's biggest supplier of arms though New Delhi has started buying more military hardware from the US in the last few years.

In the nuclear energy sector, India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

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