Moscow, Nov 9 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed optimism over the future of bilateral strategic partnership with Russia, saying the country occupies a ''special and unique'' place in India's foreign policy.
''Russia occupies a special and unique place in India's foreign relations. Our time-tested relationship is based on deep mutual trust and understanding,'' Dr Singh said in an interview to RIA Novosti news agency, ahead of his proposed visit to Moscow, starting this Sunday.
He stressed the two countries had enjoyed close ties over the last sixty years.
''Today India and Russia are strategic partners. Our geo-political interests have always had much in common. We have intensive contacts at all levels, not least through the mechanism of annual summit-level exchanges institutionalized by President Putin during his first visit to India in 2000,'' Dr Singh said.
''I am grateful to President Putin for his strong personal commitment to Indo-Russian relations,'' the Prime Minister pointed out.
He noted that the similarity of world views between India and Russia presented a unique example of two large states with a strong interest in a peaceful, secure and prosperous world order and high stakes in the orderly of the functioning international system.
''Our shared world view, which envisages a strong role for the United Nations, could help foster closer political relations and cooperation in multilateral forums,'' Dr Singh said.
On the defence and military cooperation, he said ''Russia is India's most important partner in defence cooperation and it is an integral element of our strategic partnership.'' ''Russia is the only country with which we have a formal mechanism of an Inter-Governmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation, which meets annually under the chairmanship of the two Defence Ministers,'' Dr Singh noted.
''Many defence contracts are at various stages of implementation.
Joint research, development and production of defence equipment will continue to play an important role in strengthening India's strategic partnership with Russia,'' the Prime Minister said.
''I am sure, bilateral collaboration in the field of military-technical cooperation will continue to grow in the future,'' he said, referring to the recently signed inter-governmental agreement for cooperation in the production and development of fifth generation fighter aircraft.