Vladivostok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum and discussed ways to further cement the special and privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries>
Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day visit during which he will also attend the Eastern Economic Forum, is the first Indian prime minister to visit to the Russian Far East Region.
"This is a historical occasion to give a new dimension to the cooperation between the two countries," Modi said in his opening remarks at the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit on the sidelines of the EEF, which Russia has hosted since 2015 to boost partnerships with Asian countries.
Modi said Russia is an "integral friend and trustworthy partner" of India as he praised President Putin's personal efforts on expanding the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.
"On many occasions, I have spoken to you over telephone to discuss several issues and I have never felt any hesitation," Prime Minister Modi told Putin.
Modi expressed his gratitude to President Putin and people of Russia for conferring Russia's highest civilian award on him. "This demonstrates the friendly relations between the people of our two countries. It's a matter of honour for the 1.3 billion Indians," he said.
Prime Minister Modi was named for the 'Order of St Andrew the Apostle' award by Russia in April for his exceptional services in promoting bilateral ties between the two countries. The award is the highest state decoration of Russia.
Modi thanked Putin for inviting him to the EEF, saying it is "a matter of great respect."
"A personal chemistry underlining a strong partnership President Putin welcomes PM @narendramodi in #Vladivostok for their 30th meeting. India-Russia relationship goes beyond relations between two capitals and are now at the cusp of expanding to new frontiers," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a number of key regional issues, including the Afghan peace process and situation in the Gulf region.
Both sides are expected to firm up a five-year roadmap 2019-2024 laying out possibilities of cooperation in oil and gas sector, in terms of exploration and exploitation, and purchase.
At present, India relies heavily on the Gulf region for its energy requirement. Gokhale said India is looking at Russia as a major source of hydrocarbons so as to end its complete dependency on the Gulf region.
They are also expected to explore ways to enhance cooperation while working in multilateral organisations like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China and South Africa).
Earlier, Modi was warmly welcomed at the Vladivostok airport on his third bilateral visit to Russia. He received a guard of honour at the airport.
Ahead of his visit to Russia, Modi said he looked forward to discussing regional and international issues of mutual interest with President Putin.
"I look forward to discussing with my friend President Putin the entire gamut of our bilateral partnership as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest," he said in his departure statement in New Delhi.
"I also look forward to meeting other global leaders attending the Eastern Economic Forum, and interacting with Indian Industry and business representatives participating in it," Modi said.
The forum focuses on development of business and investment opportunities in the Russian Far East Region, and presents enormous potential for developing close and mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Russia in the region.
In an interview with Russia's state-run TASS news agency ahead of his visit, Modi said he shared a "special chemistry" with President Putin and is keen on technology transfers so that the two sides can make military equipment in India at cheaper rates for export to third countries.
"I am confident that this visit will give a new vector, new energy and a new impetus to the relations between our countries," Modi said.
Russia and India are set to sign about 15 documents, including some in the military-technical sectors, within the framework of the 20th Russian-Indian summit that will take place on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), a Tass report said.