Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrived in India to hold summit talks, saying the talks would take Indo-Russian relation to the next level.
“Delighted to welcome President Putin to India. Looking forward to a productive visit that will take India, Russia ties to newer heights,” Modi tweeted in Russian ahead of his talks with Putin tomorrow on close strategic ties particularly in the fields of nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and defence.
“Times have changed, our friendship has not. now we want to take this relation to the next level and this visit is a step in that direction,” he said in a post on the micro-blogging site.
Russia was awaiting India’s decision to allot a site for construction of a new Russian-designed nuclear power plant and the issue may figure in the talks.
To improve two-way trade, Putin and Modi are expected to jointly interact with CEOs of major companies from both the countries.
The volume of bilateral trade was USD 10 billion in 2013 and both sides feel there was “huge opportunity” to improve it significantly. India has been working to have a trade pact with “Eurasian space” for improved trade and commerce which will also improve trade with Russia.
India’s exports, particularly food items, to Russia have gone up since sanctions were imposed against that country by Western nations for its interventions in the crisis in Ukraine.
India has been maintaining that it cannot be party to any economic sanctions against Russia.
Both the leaders are likely to discuss improving supply of rough diamonds by Russia to India. Russia is the world’s top producer of rough diamonds and India is one of its largest importers.
Putin will also inaugurate World Diamond Conference on Thursday.
In the defence sector, Putin may push for larger procurement of military hardware from Russia by India. Russia has been a major defence supplier to India and its share has been 60-70 per cent in the country’s import of military hardware.
Sources said specific discussions are likely to take place on various key projects including the envisaged gas pipeline linking Russia with India and the ambitious Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme.
Listing the joint strategic projects, Putin said these included construction of new units for Indian nuclear power plants, promotion of Russian Sukhoi superjet-100 and MS-21 passenger aircraft to Indian market besides manufacturing of helicopters and creating a “smart city” on the basis of Russian technology.