Russia-India cultural festivals would strengthen ties: Putin

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Moscow, Feb 13 (UNI) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia-India reciprocal year-long festivals are a natural extension of the two countries' policy to fully consolidate the bilateral strategic partnership.

''I am sincerely happy that in 2008 we are witnessing such a significant event in our bilateral relations, namely the Year of Russia in India,'' Mr Putin said in a message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

''This ambitious friendship festival is a natural extension of our countries' policy to fully consolidate our strategic partnership,''he said.

''Relations between Russia and India go back more than a century and throughout history our peoples have always retained their sincere respect, warm feelings and good relations with one another,'' the President said.

''Our friendship is not based on hasty calculations, and is not subject to a given political situation. At its core lies a convergence of our key national interests of mutual cultural and spiritual attraction,''the Kremlin press service quoted Mr Putin as saying in his message.

He said multifaceted cooperation between Russia and India had today reached a ''qualitatively new level''of development.

''Hosting each other's national years acts as tangible proof of this,'' Putin said.

''I am confident that the successful implementation of planned activities will uncover new opportunities for expanding bilateral business and cultural cooperation, and for direct communication between our citizens,'' he noted.

''This will undoubtedly give a fresh impetus to the long-term sustained development of the partnership and strategic interaction between Russia and India,'' the Russian President said.

In a separate message to the participants, organizers and guests at the Festival of Russian Culture in India, Putin said the friendly ties between Russia and India are dynamically developing in all spheres ''in the spirit of our strategic partnership''.

''Our relations have always been based on respect for our national traditions and the unique cultural heritage of the people of both our countries,'' he said, adding ''the Festival of Russian culture, part of the Year of Russia in India in 2008, is an important confirmation of this''.

''I have no doubt that the implementation of cultural projects during our respective national years will trigger great interest as well as act as an important step in further strengthening mutual trust and help expand fruitful Russian-Indian cooperation,'' Mr Putin said.

UNI XC AKJ RK1913

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