Modi strikes personal chord with Putin
They both are strong leaders with cult-like following. But when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Vladimir Putin he stuck a very personal chord when he recalled how the Russian President's brother was among several family members who had laid down their lives for the country.
Meeting 64-year-old Putin for the second time in eight months, Modi in his opening remarks mentioned his visit to the Piskariovskoye Cemetery where over 5 lakh victims of World War II and the 900-day siege of Leningrad are buried.
"I had an opportunity to visit (the cemetery) and pay homage to those who laid down their lives for Russia," 66- year-old Modi said.
Looking at Putin, he said, "you are a political leader whose family has made sacrifices" for the glory of Russia.
"Your brother was martyred," he said, referring to Putin's brother Viktor who died more than 70 years ago during the siege of Leningrad.
Putin, who was born in 1952, seven years after the siege ended in 1944, thanked Modi for visiting the cemetery.
"I would like to thank you specially for visiting Piskariovskoye," he said. "Places like these have special significance for the Russian people. Thank you."
Putin is known for rarely showing his emotions but he appeared moved when Modi mentioned the sacrifices made by his family.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday held wide-ranging talks on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests, including ways to boost energy and trade ties.
At the beginning of their restricted meeting, Modi told Putin he was happy to be able to visit his hometown as Prime Minister. This is for the first time Indo-Russia summit in Russia was happening outside Moscow in St Petersburg.
"Normally, international relations see ups and downs but history is witness Indo-Russia relations have not seen any ups and downs," the prime minister said and thanked the Russian president for playing crucial role in getting India Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) membership. Putin said India will become a full-fledged member of the SCO in a week.
The two sides are expected to sign 12 agreements in wide- ranging sectors, including in science and technology, railways, cultural exchanges and other business areas between private parties also, in addition to a "vision statement" that the two leaders will release.