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Asia

Russian President boosts bilateral ties in India

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Taj Mahal and Mumbai before leaving India on Wednesday. During his brief visit, India and Russia signed 30 bilateral agreements worth billions of dollars.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arriving at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arriving at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai

Security was stepped up in India's financial capital Mumbai for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit, after a reported intelligence warning of a possible militant attack targeting foreigners.

Unperturbed, the Russian president spoke to students at the elite Indian Institute of Technology, and also visited a leading Bollywood film studio before leaving the country.

The Russian president visited the Taj Mahal before leaving India

The Russian president visited the Taj Mahal before leaving India

During Medvedev's two-day stay, India and Russia, underlining their "privileged strategic partnership," inked a raft of agreements worth billions of dollars, including a contract for jointly building a fifth generation fighter jet.

Vow to expand counter-terror cooperation

The two countries also resolved to expand their counter-terror cooperation and Russia asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to justice.

In a boost to India's counter-terror efforts, President Medvedev called for the elimination of the "safe havens for terrorism and violent extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan" and agreed to expand consultations on the volatile Afghan situation.

"Those who hide terrorists conceal crimes and hide criminals; there can be no other assumption here," Medvedev said.

"One understands that the extradition is quite complicated but it is important that international cooperation in this field should be in place between all those interested in fighting against terrorism."

"India and Russia are both victims of terrorism," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responded.

"As such there is a natural synergy of interests in working together to deal with this menace and the most important means is that we should cooperate in information sharing, intelligence sharing."

Bilateral ties on a strong footing

Following up on defense deals signed with US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in their recent visits to India, the prominent deal with Russia was a contract on the joint design and development of fifth-generation fighter aircraft with stealth abilities.

The deal is estimated to be worth US $30 billion, with India planning to induct up to 300 of the new models into its air force.

Arun Mohanty, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University's Centre for Russian Studies, said that the bilateral ties were on a strong footing.

Medvedev called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice

Medvedev called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice

"We signed 30 agreements, which is unprecedented – it is exhaustive. We have many strategic partners, but as our prime minister said it is a special and privileged strategic partnership, it is very rich in content, whereas the strategic partnership with other G4 partners it is more about rhetoric, without much substance."

Indian membership of nuclear groupings

Russia also reiterated its support for India's full membership in elite nuclear groupings such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

In addition, the two countries discussed setting up "additional nuclear reactors" in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Cooperation in space also saw an upswing, as the two sides signed a pact on giving India access to high-precision signals from Glonass, Russia’s equivalent of America's GPS, which could help the effective integration of India's military land, air and sea assets.

Medvedev's talks in India covered a host of further issues, including the intensification of bilateral economic ties and the international financial crisis.

Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Anne Thomas

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