Putin hosts Indian PM for talks on defence, energy

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks that focused on defence, nuclear and energy ties.

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Speaking at the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Modi lauded Russia for being "a reliable friend" who has "always stood by us."

Russia and India have shared close ties since Cold War times, when Moscow was a key ally and the main arms supplier to New Delhi.

Putin voiced strong support for New Delhi's aspirations to win a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, praising India's "well-balanced and responsible foreign policy course."

Trade between India and Russia, just below $10 billion in 2014, fell by more than 14 per cent this year. Putin blamed the decline on a drop in global oil prices, Russia's main export commodity, and said the two countries should develop closer industrial cooperation.

Russia has built a nuclear reactor at India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant and is now completing a second unit there.

Putin said Russia is preparing to start building another two atomic reactors and intends to build 12 nuclear reactors in India over 20 years, according to an earlier agreement. A deal signed by Russian and Indian officials after Thursday's talks envisaged that components for the Russian-built reactors will be produced in India.

"The pace of our cooperation in nuclear energy is increasing," Modi said. "The agreement today will increase Indian manufacturing contents in these reactors."

Putin said the two countries would also cooperate on designing a next-generation fighter jet and a transport plane.

Following the talks, officials from both countries signed a slew of agreements on manufacturing helicopters, prospective joint exploration of Russian oil resources, simplifying visas for businessmen and other issues.


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