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Indian PM Modi to focus on defense and economy in talks with Russian President Putin

The leaders of India and Russia meet in Moscow to discuss opportunities for economic and military cooperation. The two countries have held annual summit meetings since 2000.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a two-day summit - talks are expected to focus on defense, nuclear and space cooperation.

Modi began his visit Wednesday with

a private dinner with Putin

. More talks involving top officials from both countries are to be held in the Kremlin on Thursday.

Trade between India and Russia was just below $10 billion (9.1 billion euros) in 2014. The two countries have set an ambitious goal of increasing trade to $30 billion (27 million euros) by 2025.

Russia and India have shared

close ties since the Cold War

, when Moscow was a key ally and the main arms supplier to New Delhi.

Russia is Inida's 'major military partner'

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters ahead of the visit that Russia is a "very major military and strategic partner," adding that there will be discussions on

more arms purchases for the Indian military

, including a deal to manufacture 200 Kamov-226T helicopters in a joint venture located in India.

While India has remained a major customer for the Russian arms industry, the country in recent years has sought to diversify its purchases, buying military hardware from the United States, France and Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in the Kremlin

Indian PM Modi at the Kremlin With President Putin

Jaishankar said Modi's talks in Moscow will also include nuclear cooperation.

"We have a roadmap for nuclear cooperation with Russia, and we are moving in accordance with that," said Jaishankar.

Russia has built a nuclear reactor

at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India and is now completing a second unit there. The two nations have a plan envisaging that Russia will build a total of 12 nuclear reactors in India over 20 years.

The leaders of India and Russia have hosted annual bilateral summits since 2000, as part of a strategic partnership agreed between Putin and India's prime minister at the time.

bik/jil (AP, dpa)

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