Moscow and New Delhi signed new arms deals worth billions of dollars Monday, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first trip to India since he started a new six-year term in May. The visit is part of a bilateral summit aimed at strengthening military, trade, and energy ties.
The defense contracts include a $1.6 billion deal for India to purchase 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.
“India and Russia share the objective of a stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, free from extremism,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after the talks, the Associated Press reported.
“We attach particular significance to bilateral trade and investment relations,” Putin wrote in an article published in the Hindu Monday. “The growing economic potential of India and Russia is mutually complementary in many respects. Our trade turnover has overcome the consequences of the global crisis, and in 2012 we expect to reach record numbers, over $10 billion. Our next goal is to reach $20 billion by 2015,” he said.
"India and Russia show an example of responsible leadership and collective actions in the international arena," he wrote referring to both the nations’ principle of non-intervention in the internal matters of others, unlike that of the West and in particular the U.S.
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The venue of the meeting between Putin and Singh was shifted because of security concerns, following massive protests in the Indian capital over a gang-rape of a female medical student Dec. 16.
The two leaders met at Singh's residence on Race Course Road instead of the stately Hyderabad House, the place for almost all high level interactions with visiting dignitaries.
An official who spoke to the Hindu said the venue was changed due to certain security restrictions as people have been gathering in numbers and battling the police near India Gate and the adjoining areas for the third consecutive day, Monday.
However, after the meeting with the Prime Minister, Putin is expected to visit the presidential palace to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, reports said.
New Delhi and Moscow have been maintaining diplomatic relations since Indian independence in 1947 and signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership in October 2000.
India, the largest Russian defense buyer last year, relies on Russia for 60 percent of its arms purchases.
However, recent Russian efforts to improve relations with Pakistan, one of Moscow’s enemies during the Soviet Union's war of occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and India’s recent big defense contracts with U.S., France and Israel, have added pressure on the ties between the two nations.