New Delhi: As Russian President Vladimir Putin flew in to Delhi on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that the visit will take the bilateral relations to "newer heights."
"Delighted to welcome President Putin to India. Looking forward to a productive visit that will take India, Russia ties to newer heights," PM Modi tweeted in Russian ahead of his talks with Mr Putin on Thursday 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. In his talks with PM Modi, both in restricted and delegation level formats, Mr Putin is likely to seek deeper economic engagement with "time-tested" ally India to try to minimize impact of sanctions against Russia by the US and its Western allies over the Ukraine issue. It will be the first annual summit meeting between Mr Putin and PM Modi. The two leaders had met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July and during the G-20 summit in Australia last month. Ahead of his visit, Mr Putin termed ties with India as "privileged strategic partnership" and said construction of new nuclear plants besides military and technical cooperation was high on the agenda for talks. He said Russia was keen to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India and involve ONGC in oil and gas hunt in the Arctic. Energy-starved India, which is the third largest oil importer after the US and China -- has been pushing for greater involvement in major gas and oil exploration projects in Russia and both the leaders are set to discuss the issue. Russia is one of the top oil producers globally and has huge reserves of natural gas. In the nuclear energy sector, Russia may offer to set up a total of 20-24 nuclear energy production units in India against previously agreed 14-16 plants. Both sides are also likely to come out with a roadmap for cooperation in the overall energy sector. Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin said the two countries will start negotiations for setting up of units five and six at the Kudankulam nuclear power complex soon and may sign a technical pact for units 3 and 4 during Mr Putin's stay in Delhi.
All India | Press Trust of India | Updated: December 11, 2014