Putin to arrive in India today, to focus on economic ties

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Moscow, Dec 23: Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to arrive in India on Monday on a visit intended to help cement Russia's position in the growing Indian market and reinvigorate political ties. Following Putin's talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian officials, Moscow and New Delhi will sign agreements on trade, science, education and law enforcement.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen six-fold since 2000 and is expected to reach USD 10 billion this year, the growth has slowed down in recent years. And even though India remains the main customer for Russia's arms industries, Moscow has recently lost several multi-billion dollar contracts to Western weapons-makers.

Russia and India have shared close ties since the Cold War, when Moscow was a key ally and the principal arms supplier to New Delhi. The ties slackened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but grew stronger again after Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow's global clout and restore ties with old allies.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with USD 30 billion worth of arms contracts with India signed in 2000-2010 that envisaged supplies of hundreds of fighter jets, missiles, tanks and other weapons, a large part of which were licence-produced in India.

The countries have co-operated on building an advanced fighter plane and a new transport aircraft and have jointly developed a supersonic cruise missile for the Indian Navy. But the military cooperation has hit snags in recent years as New Delhi shops increasingly for Western weapons. The Indians also haven't been always happy with the quality of Russian weapons and their rising prices.

AP

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