Moscow, Dec 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day official visit, has assured Russia that it will remain India’s “principal partner” in defence sector.
Modi said the two strategic partners are working together for joint manufacture of advanced defence equipment in India under the ‘make in India’ initiative.
“Russia has been India’s foremost defence partner through decades, accounting for a majority of our defence equipment… even in the current environment, despite India’s improved access to the world market, Russia remains our principal partner,” Modi told Russian news agency Itar-Taas.
Noting that Russia provided defence equipment to India and nternational support when few were willing to hold its hands, the prime minister said, “Indians will never forget the Russian support that we got when we needed it the most.”
Asserting that the Indo-Russia defence ties have been transformed “from a buyer seller relationship to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced systems” such as the BrahMos missile, Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft and T-90 tanks, Modi said Russia has the potential to be the leading partner in make in India mission in defence sector.
“We are soon going to make a beginning in that direction,” Modi said.
“We are also working together for joint manufacture of defence equipment and components in India under the make in India initiative,” he added.
India’s assurance to Russia comes at a time when it has developed a closer defence ties with the US and Russia made overtures to Pakistan in recent months for the first time.
Modi to discuss mutual trade, cooperation
Prime Minister Modi and the Russian President are expected to discuss topical global and regional issues and prospects for cooperation in multilateral organisations, primarily at the United Nations, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
According to reports, following the talks, a number of bilateral agreements are expected to be inked, in particular on transport, trade, energy and reciprocal trips of the citizens. Economic cooperation will be the focus of the talks.
Modi, who arrived in Russia at Putin’s invitation on a two-day official visit, was in the Russian city of Ufa during the BRICS and SCO Summits.
Russia’s share in India’s trade hovered around one percent. In January-October 2015, the volume of trade with India amounted to USD 6.2 billion, shrinking 14.4 percent.
(With Agency Inputs)