Millennium Post

Putin visit: Defence, nuclear pacts likely

Mandarins in the South Block are preparing for a ‘meaningful’ visit by Russian president Vladimir Putin, which commences in the latter half of the coming week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already described Russia as being India’s ‘best friend’ and the deliberations being chalked out would be befitting that status.

President Vladimir Putin will arrive here for the annual Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 11. The visit is likely to witness most importantly the inking of an agreement for the acquisition of the fifth generation fighter aircraft.  During the summit, the two heads of government will spell out their vision for cooperation in key areas including defence and nuclear as two sides are looking at inking 15-20 pacts during the nearly 20-hour-long visit. It will be the first annual summit meeting between Putin and Modi. The two leaders have met twice during the year. They met on the sidelines of the BRIC summit in Brazil in July during which Modi had mentioned to him that every child in India knows that Russia was India’s “closest friend”. They met for the second time during the G-20 summit in Australia last month.

The visit is expected to impart new dynamism to “special and privileged” Indo-Russia ties and the two sides will be taking stock of the current state of relations apart from discussing ways to significantly enhance bilateral trade from the current USD 10 billion during the 15th Summit meeting.

Putin will hold detailed talks with Modi both in restricted and delegation level formats. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee who will hold a banquet for him.

Sources said specific discussions are likely to take place on various key projects including the envisaged gas pipeline linking Russia with India and the ambitious Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme. Further cooperation in the nuclear energy area is also likely to figure prominently during the talks.

“President Putin’s visit is a landmark event and is expected to provide fresh impetus to the existing bilateral relations between the two countries. The dominant theme of this summit will be the spelling out by the two leaders a joint vision of our relationship for the next decade,” Ajay Bisaria, Joint Secretary (EURASIA) said.

He said the vision document will provide a road map to enhance partnership between two countries to a “qualitatively new level” in key areas of nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, trade and defence. Putin, who will be accompanied by a high-level delegation of officials and corporate leaders from Russia, and Modi are expected to jointly interact with CEOs of major companies from both the countries as well.

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