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Putin seeks to boost ties with India

December 10, 2014

Amid Russian economic woes, President Vladimir Putin is heading to New Delhi to sign agreements on nuclear energy and defense. Moscow has agreed to start gas supplies to India in 2017.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Klimentyev/Ria Novosti

Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to attend the annual India-Russia summit and discuss bilateral trade and energy cooperation.

Speaking to the Press Trust of India (PTI) before his visit, Putin termed New Delhi and Moscow's relationship as a "privileged strategic partnership" and said that the construction of several new nuclear plants and military cooperation were high on his agenda for the trip.

Putin is accompanied by 15 business heads on his visit to New Delhi and is hopeful that discussions will further boost bilateral trade between the two countries, which reached $10 billion in 2013.

The PTI quoted sources as saying that Putin and Modi are likely to discuss a gas pipeline linking Russia to India, the largest oil importer in the world after the US and China. Moscow is also eager to allow Indian oil companies to explore oil extraction possibilities in Russia.

Moscow is also expected to persuade New Delhi to buy more of its military equipment from Russia. Russia has been a big arms supplier to India and Russian imports make up 60 to 70 percent of the country's arms. However, India's recent decision to import the Rafale fighter aircraft from France and Moscow's increasing closeness with Pakistan has created some strain.

Despite their differences, New Delhi has stood by its ally since the Cold War era and refused to comply with Western sanctions against Moscow over the separatist struggle in Eastern Ukraine. India's exports to Russia have gone up since fighting broke out in March 2014 between rebels in Ukraine's east and Kyiv's administration.

mg/sb (dpa, AP, PTI)

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